Posts for 2009

It's What's Inside That Counts Dept. (2009/12/30 12:27)
Friends of mine and I often get into disputes -- good-natured ones -- about a concept that is expressed most commonly in Zen: that everything you need is right inside you, and that you don't need to seek outside yourself...

Make Way For Tomorrow Dept. (2009/12/29 05:51)
So now I stop to take stock, and I realize I haven't the faintest idea what's happening in 2010. I just left the fulltime gig I was doing for two years. The reasons for this I'll not go into here;...

The Quick And Dirty Guide To Reviewing Anime (2009/12/29 02:40)
Between one year-end closet cleaning and another, I ran into a little bullet-point list I wrote up a while back, partly for myself and partly for other folks. (Full article after the jump, for the sake of those skimming. I...

In Print Dept. (2009/12/29 02:25)
AICN Anime has news on a couple of upcoming books in translation.Ryu Murakami's Audition novel, source for the Takashi Miike movie, will be released in North America in June.[*]The next Yasutaka Tsutsui (Paprika, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time)...

Ow My Few Remaining Braincells Dept. (2009/12/28 11:30)
Evidently Norton/Symantec thinks the best way to get people to protect their computers is through bad analogies with poultry and 80s metal bands.My chicken is already safe from Dokken, thank you. And I don't think Lemmy of Motörhead is going...

Heat Guy J: The Complete Series (2009/12/28 05:59)
Daisuke Aurora’s a lanky blond-haired fellow with an easy smile and a knack for being able to fall asleep on any soft horizontal surface. His partner, J, is an android, a synthetic creation somewhere between John Connor’s hacked T-800 and...

Princess (2009/12/28 04:25)
August used to be a missionary somewhere overseas, trying to do good works in places where good works are seldom seen. One day he returns home to his native Denmark, and walks in on his sister Christina while she’s in...

(2009/12/27 03:03)
Back home after Christmas getaway. I'll be sorting through mail and some work-related stuff for a couple of days, but expect some posts on Monday....

Nailed It Dept. (2009/12/24 11:44)
And we shall call this “Moff’s Law” | Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture... when you go out of your way to suggest that people should be thinking less — that not using one’s capacity for...

More Dept. (2009/12/24 11:03)
In this post I talk about some personal, end-of-the-year stuff....

Ch-Ch-Changed Dept. (2009/12/23 06:00)
2000-2009 Part 1: Looking Back « OGIUE MANIAXAn interesting assessment of how things have changed in the anime world across the past decade. The most obvious touchstones: the Internet; digital production techniques; the moe-splosion; the hard times across the...

Edge of the Abyss Dept. (2009/12/23 11:34)
Atop Towering Cliffs, a Lonely Campaign to Combat Japanese Suicide - NYTimes.comPeople have asked me, why is it that Japan always seems rife with problems like this? Is it just what we see from the outside, or is it...

Pipes Are Calling Dept. (2009/12/18 12:51)
More bad news: Dan O'Bannon, creator of Alien and so much more, has passed on.The guy did a lot more after that, but Alien is what he's most remembered for. I always thought of him as one of the founding...

The Big Rundown Dept. (2009/12/18 12:24)
Some tidbits from this week's AICN Anime column:Bloody Disgusting is reporting director Takashi Shimizu (The Grudge franchise, The Shock Labyrinth 3D) will be producing a feature film adaptation of Satoshi Kon's TV series Paranoia Agent.Paranoia Agent is about as good...

You Can Do Better Than This In Your Sleep Dept. (2009/12/17 01:44)
And now, the generic fantasy novel, in less than a hundred words: He was young and scrappy, from some forgotten backwater where they had never heard of foreshadowing or heroic tropes. He took up his sword and killed a great...

Borrowed Time Dept. (2009/12/17 01:02)
Mary Norton’s The Borrowers Next From Ghibli - Mania.comStudio Ghibli has made formal their plans for 2010 with the new theatrical feature, The Borrowers, which is based off of the novel of the same name by Mary Norton.The director,...

Goodbye and Hayao Dept. (2009/12/16 07:11)
The Digital Bits: Celebrating Film on Disc - DVD & Blu-ray... a number of you have asked about possible Blu-ray releases of Hayao Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro and KiKi's Delivery Service, which Disney is re-releasing...

At Your Elbow Dept. (2009/12/16 02:02)
So what's a good book to have next to your computer? Yes, I know there's some irony in the idea of keeping a book next to the computer. But everything is not digital yet, and so here's a quick jog...

MorBlu Dept. (2009/12/15 10:18)
The Criterion CollectionThis March, we bring three new filmmakers to the collection—idiosyncratic, daring directors every one: Nicholas Ray, with his 1950s suburban nightmare Bigger Than Life, starring James Mason; Marco Ferreri, whose Dillinger Is Dead, with the ever-charming Michel...

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE Season 1 (2009/12/15 09:19)
Call it CLAMP: The Remix. Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE is one part original adventure and one part spirited romp through the gallery of CLAMP’s characters that have accumulated over the past two decades. You don’t need to be a CLAMPophile to...

Weasel Words Dept. (2009/12/15 04:05)
The book publishers are making the same mistake the music industry did: they assume the customer is an adversary. Wary Book Publishers Are Fighting the Future - Bits Blog - NYTimes.comI decided earlier this month that I would be offering...

The Other Akira Dept. (2009/12/15 12:14)
Thinking Outside the Box - From the Current (Criterion.com)... we had hoped to celebrate the actual centenary, in March, with a Blu-ray edition of Seven Samurai, but weeks of additional restoration have turned into months—yes, it looks really amazing—and...

Goth Goth! Dept. (2009/12/14 09:57)
24Framespersecond.net - Exclusive: Ohara Bros announce GOTHIC & LOLITA PSYCHOGothic and Lolita…the fashion reflects her dark and childish mental state. YUKI, the heroine, saw her mother killed by cruel gangs. Now she vows revenge! Knock off the enemies with...

Akiwrong Dept. (2009/12/14 02:02)
Dark Horizons | News | Gary Whitta Talks "Akira" Remake - December 13th 2009"I haven't worked on it for about a year ... We were going to adapt the whole six-episode graphic novel" says Whitta.He adds that he got...

And Speaking Of Peter Jackson Dept. (2009/12/14 01:52)
Blu-ray.com - Peter Jackson Restoring His Early Films for Blu-rayIn a recent interview for Reel Time (a programme on the CineMagic XM radio channel), Peter Jackson said he is currently restoring his "early films" for release on Blu-ray. No...

Ring Out Dept. (2009/12/14 11:44)
The Digital Bits: Celebrating Film on Disc - DVD & Blu-rayWe told you last week that Warner Home Video was getting close to making an official announcement on the long-awaited release of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy on...

Forgotten Silver Dept. (2009/12/14 01:18)
Most people are busy compiling their best-of-the-last-ten-years lists. Me, I thought I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes do something more in keeping with the general theme of the site, and run through the greatest discoveries I've made over...

Sayonara Jupiter (2009/12/13 09:47)
If there’s one thing the Japanese movie industry has always wanted, it’s a massive international box-office hit on the order of Star Wars, Titanic or Jurassic Park. They’ve tried by aping the formulas of Hollywood blockbusters—but ironically enough the most...

Up There Down There Dept. (2009/12/13 06:08)
Op-Ed Columnist - Hollywood’s Brilliant Coda to America’s Dark Year - NYTimes.comThe idea that the perpetrators of the current financial mess never have much of the mess hit their own shoes is not something limited to this particular disaster, either: it's...

The Talented Mrs. Ripley Dept. (2009/12/13 05:04)
Blu-ray.com - Alien Blu-ray to Feature Sigourney Weaver CommentaryDuring an interview for the Los Angeles Times to promote the theatrical release of 'Avatar', actress Sigourney Weaver (who plays a botanist in James Cameron's movie) discussed all her movie career...

Back To The Well Dept. (2009/12/13 02:15)
But wait! There's more! Real Fiction [2005/06/06] Ratcatcher [2006/03/03] Geroppa! (Get Up!) [2004/11/11] Paranoia Agent [2005/09/09] Pan's Labyrinth [2007/07/07] Another Lonely Hitman [2005/07/08] Onibi: The Fire Within [2005/07/07] On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate [2005/07/07] Oasis [2005/04/04] Ninja...

Older But Newer Dept. (2009/12/12 05:55)
From the back catalog, reviews of:Morvern Callar [2006/01/01] Mikadroid: Robokill Beneath Discoclub Layla [2006/11/11] Memories of Murder [2006/02/02] Memories [2009/12/12] Manji [2006/12/12] Enjoy!...

Memories (2009/12/12 05:33)
Anthology films get no respect, if only because the vast majority of them tend to never be more than fair-to-middling. Most of them just grouped together a bunch of related stories that couldn’t be blown up to feature length. The...

Poor Text Editing Dept. (2009/12/12 12:56)
Every time I get that much closer to using a webpage as an application of some kind, cold hard reality leaps out of the closet and tears my head off. Movable Type 5's default in-browser rich text editor is pretty...

Hell Of A Way To Ring Out The Decade, Yeah? Dept. (2009/12/11 10:11)
Ebert says Avatar is an Event with the cap E. Watching "Avatar," I felt sort of the same as when I saw "Star Wars" in 1977.... It takes a hell of a lot of nerve for a man to stand up at...

Blutropolis Dept. (2009/12/11 06:55)
From Blu-ray.com: In an announcement for the merger between Lorber HT Digital and Kino International, it was revealed that Kino is planning to release the recently restored version of Fritz Lang's legendary silent film 'Metropolis' in theaters next year, followed...

Dying For It Dept. (2009/12/11 01:19)
Most of the time I don't mind when people believe weird things. What I do mind is when people believe weird things that are counter-scientific -- that is, when they fly right in the face of things for which we have...

Tenno Dept. (2009/12/10 11:26)
Donald Ritchie remembers the Emperor. ... in Kurosawa’s films, the major theme is that the heroes are always, from Sugata on, not being but becoming. They live in a present where, though history may indicate, it does not define. You...

Yokaiden Vol. #2 (2009/12/10 06:18)
Ah, Nina Matsumoto, welcome back. And here I was, terrified that one of the best original English manga I’ve yet seen was consigned to never get past its first volume. Yōkaiden’s first installment charmed the cheesecake out of me, making...

Sun Down Dept. (2009/12/08 12:07)
Interesting perspective on the Twilight books / movies: As Twilight demonstrates, not everything girls like is good art -- or, for that matter, good feminism. Still, the Twilight backlash should matter to feminists, even if the series makes them shudder....

Blowhard Dept. (2009/12/06 05:30)
Bad Astronomy is great any day of the week, but of particular note is a current post wherein Phil Plait pillories Deepak Chopra for an article in which Chopra slaps at "skepticism". "Skeptic" is apparently Chopra's word for "someone not...

Burst Angel (2009/12/05 02:05)
Burst Angel is aptly named: the girls look great, but the story pops like stale gum. It’s a chicks-with-guns action vehicle bolted together out of parts recycled from a dozen other places—the kind of show you watch in the background...

Et Al Dept. (2009/12/02 01:15)
A quick closet-cleaning of interesting stuff garnered over the past month. New York City apartment buildings freecycle, and create new community spaces in the process. A new book coming out called The Jazz Loft Project, documenting Weegee's time at 821...

In It Dept. (2009/11/30 05:04)
On my last pass through the $1 pile at the local bookstore I found a somewhat ragged but still perfectly readable copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Shunryu Suzuki's slim but deeply engaging collection of lectures on Zen practice. Books...

The Ghost in the Shell (2009/11/28 10:32)
As a TV series, Ghost in the Shell was top-of-the-line. As a movie, it was an ethereal, free-floating meditation on the ideas introduced in the story. Then you go back to the original manga and it’s like being devoured alive...

Zoo (2009/11/27 09:42)
My current prevailing theory about pop-culture success in Japan is that it gets you adapted. Novel, manga, live-action TV series, live-action movie, animated series, animated movie, drama CD, cellphone story—if you create any one of the above and it’s a...

The Astonishing Work of Tezuka Osamu (2009/11/27 12:15)
Somehow in between drawing enough manga to fill an entire bookshelf—and that’s no figure of speech—Osamu Tezuka also found the time to create animated films. What’s probably most surprising to learn is that they were not adaptations of his manga...

Crazy Lips (2009/11/25 02:11)
Cult cinema is a continual game of one-upsmanship of the bizarre. Just when you think you’ve seen the Weirdest Thing Possible, something else comes along and flings a wrecking ball through it. Let me introduce you to the new wrecking...

Empty Shell Dept. (2009/11/25 01:43)
My copy of Ghost in the Shell 2.0 on Blu-ray arrived today. I encourage everyone with an iota of respect for this film not to buy it. There are two things wrong with GITS2.0. The first is the 2.0 "remix"...

Even Better Than The Real Thing Dept. (2009/11/25 01:17)
Some artists have a way of riveting your vision with the certitude of what they do. This has nothing to do with subject or style. It's inexplicable. Andy Warhol and Grandma Moses. The spareness of Bergman or the Fellini...

More Clay Dept. (2009/11/25 01:12)
Claymore just got the Blu-ray release I insisted it deserved. Sure, it comes out in February, but what's a couple of months and about a thousand redeemed bottles between friends? On a far less impressive note, they're also Blu-in Trinity...

Lost In Translation All Over Again Dept. (2009/11/23 01:21)
It's been a while since I did a rundown of things not yet in English that have caught my attention recently. Kataribe I did a full piece on, of course, but here's some other things from the shelf that so...

Yagyu Ninja Scrolls: Revenge of the Hori Clan Vol. #7 (2009/11/22 12:39)
I have this fantasy wherein some Japanese historian unearths a cache of scrolls that tell us what the legendary “ninja” Yagyū Jūbei was really like. The most exotic version of this fantasy has Jūbei himself coming forward in time to...

Kataribe (Masayuki Ishikawa) (2009/11/17 06:17)
Before Masayuki Ishikawa had his big hit with Moyasimon (a tale of talking bacteria, no less), he had a couple of other one-shot titles that may or may not get an English release. I’ve been pushing for “may”, as after...

Gunsmith Cats: Burst Vol. #4 (2009/11/17 01:44)
The term set piece in filmmaking refers not to something that happens on a set, but the sort of action sequence that you go and tell your friends about after you get out of the theater or turn away from...

Dogs: Bullets & Carnage Graphic Novel 2 (2009/11/15 06:30)
Dogs: Bullets & Carnage. Truth in advertising. Or, at least, a declaration of attitude. Manga noir, we could call it: a dark, stylish world where the outfits are vintage Harajuku, the guns are wartime surplus, and the swords are classic...

Zoo (Otsuichi) (Akihisa Yanari) (2009/11/15 05:34)
Maybe it sounds like a cheap shot to say I picked up the manga adaptation of Otsuichi’s Zoo for a dollar, but it’s the truth. I was already curious about how the short-story collection had been adapted into manga, but...

Black Lagoon Vol. #8 (2009/11/13 10:53)
The other week I finally watched Hot Fuzz (yeah, I know, what kept me?), which did the neat trick of making fun of the very thing it was paying homage to. It worked as comedy, it worked as an action...

Samurai Princess (2009/11/12 12:59)
Samurai Princess is the latest pustule of throbbing madness to pop off the same Japanese cinematic assembly lines as Machine Girl, Tokyo Gore Police, RoboGeisha, et whacked-out cetera. For less money than what most movies spend on promotional gewgaws, you...

Somnium Dept. (2009/11/10 01:00)
I knew I liked Wim Wenders, but the essay Criterion has published about his creative process for Wings of Desire has transformed my comradely admiration into something like brotherly love. Reading it was like receiving a letter from someone who...

Not On This Side Of The Pacific Dept. (2009/11/07 09:29)
Some bits and pieces from AICN Anime... The smash-hit manga/anime franchise Gin Tama (a favorite of mine) is apparently set to be adapted into a live-action film Over There. Warner Bros. Japan is footing the bill -- which means due...

Dream On Dept. (2009/11/06 12:34)
Ebert looks (back) at Hoop Dreams, a project that started as a little documentary about kids playing basketball and turned into one of those movies. Like one of Werner Herzog's films, it grew out of the fact that the right...

Short Leash Dept. (2009/11/06 12:14)
From a friend's blog: eredic: Kids, Safety and GPS Tracking While I was sitting at lunch today, a couple of my female co-workers were also in the break room talking about an article one of them was reading in the...

The Black House (2009/11/05 11:44)
Here is a movie which doesn’t really work as a whole, but is oddly fascinating if you take each piece by itself. The Black House was marketed as a thriller, but it’s really closer to one of Takashi Miike’s “thrillers”,...

Disappearing And Re-appearing Act Dept. (2009/11/05 06:47)
The bad news: Vertical's excellent edition of Osamu Tezuka's MW is now out of print. My rave about it is here, and I still smile at this part: ... [in] those last couple of pages, where having already yanked the...

Hack Work Dept. (2009/11/05 11:42)
Critics and moviegoers alike are recoiling in amazement at Richard Schickel's mean-spirited kicking-to-the-curb of a biography of Robert Altman: 'Robert Altman: The Oral Biography' by Mitchell Zuckoff -- latimes.com [Altman's] films do not transcend their times; even the best...

Dying Arts Dept. (2009/11/04 11:00)
The geisha have been a dying breed for a while, but apparently so are the pearl fishers: Ancient art of pearl diving breathes its last | World news | The Guardian ... The dearth of potential successors could spell the...

Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei Vol. 4 (2009/11/04 08:43)
Once upon a time, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the VHS of Akira was still marketed by Streamline Pictures, there was a little monthly named Mangajin. They were, and still are, a godsend for someone who wanted to not...

Pumpkin Scissors: The Complete Series (2009/11/04 12:46)
Behind one of the odder titles in recent memory lies a very good show, if not quite a great one. Pumpkin Scissors has a flawed final stretch and some elements that don’t quite work, but put those aside and what’s...

Sword of the Stranger (2009/11/03 11:43)
How long has it been since we’ve seen a really good animated samurai epic? Not a series, but a feature film? Apart from Ninja Scroll (which wasn’t to my taste), the animated Musashi (not yet seen by me) the middling...

Guin Graphics Dept. (2009/11/03 07:03)
Amazon.com in Japan has just revealed another way for me to go broke: the Guin Saga animation artbook. 127 pages, ¥1000? Not too shabby. I'll save my pennies and see if it shows up at Kinokuniya once it's out (which...

Restocked! (2009/11/02 12:27)
As of RIGHT NOW, all my books are back in stock! Tokyo Inferno, The Four-Day Weekend and Summerworld all have signed copies and are immediately available. All books are $20 + $3 domestic S/H. Due to a screwup on my part,...

X-Cross (2009/11/02 12:10)
Now this wasn’t what I signed up for. I went into X-Cross thinking it would be a gory throwaway, and instead got something closer to Sam Raimi’s gleeful everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach. We start off in conventional horror/thriller territory, then roll on...

Shonen Onmyouji: The Complete Series (2009/11/01 01:41)
Sometimes you’re better off dumping all pretenses of being a critic and just coming out and saying you like something a whole lot. So it goes with Shonen Onmyouji, because, well, guilty as charged: it has a bunch of things...

Clenched Fists Dept. (2009/10/29 03:39)
Jim Hines has a discussion about the "outsider problem" when it comes to those who rape or batter others. This was provoked by a news article about a fifteen-year-old who was sexually assaulted in front of strangers who did nothing...

Zetsubo Dept. (2009/10/29 11:11)
So what's the difference between depression and a philosophical despondency? Kierkegaard on the Couch - Happy Days Blog - NYTimes.com If there's a distinction, it's between something that is a neurological/chemical disorder and a philosophical outlook. The first is a...

Sandlogged Dept. (2009/10/28 06:36)
I will start with a not-so-hypothetical question: Is there anyone who seriously believes that another movie version of Frank Herbert's Dune is required, let alone a good idea? It's funny how a project like this will just sort of stick...

Blasts From The Future Dept. (2009/10/28 01:16)
Some brief new releases. Hideo Gosha (of Goyokin, The Geisha and Sword of the Beast) has a new domestic DVD release: Onimasa aka The Japanese Godfather. (I have a review of The Geisha that needs to go up at some point;...

Blood: The Last Vampire (2009) (2009/10/27 04:23)
You wanted a live-action Blood: the Last Vampire, you got it. The first of the big-budget Hollywood anime adaptations has arrived, and it has pretty much everything you could want from such a project. We get Saya, the katana-swinging vampire...

Tough Guys Dept. (2009/10/27 10:34)
Those of you with a Yusaku Matsuda fetish (he's the dad of that other Matsuda, Ryuhei) will probably need a new pair of shorts: Kadokawa has a Blu-ray box set of several of his films coming out in Japan. Included...

Room Fulla Bodies Dept. (2009/10/26 10:43)
Here's a curious revelation that came in the wake of me looking at the stats logs for my site from earlier in the week. The number of people who stopped by my site in one week and looked at the...

Dogging It In The Heartland Dept. (2009/10/26 06:29)
In my post about Hakkenden I lamented the lack of a good English translation of the book (apart from the extracts found here and there). There's also vanishingly little English scholarship about the author (Bakin Takizawa) -- apart from one...

Preservation Society Dept. (2009/10/26 02:27)
The MoMA has movies! And not just any old movies, either, but awesome old movies.Among the restored films: A Woman Under the Influence, a longtime favorite of mine restored to life thanks (again) to Criterion.New preservation efforts in Asian films...

Top Ten Dept. (2009/10/26 01:20)
Stupid stats system. Somehow -- don't ask how -- the reporting and log analysis software for the site went teacups-up and stopped gathering data back in April. I aargh'ed a bit, downloaded the raw stats logs and crunched some numbers...

Dog Soldiers Dept. (2009/10/25 04:24)
Anime fans ought to be at least passingly familiar with Hakkenden, the 13-episode adaptation of Bakin Takizawa's feudal-era epic about eight reincarnated warriors embodying different samurai ideals. Readers of this site probably remember the Sonny Chiba live-action version, directed by...

Claymore: The Complete Series (2009/10/25 11:12)
1994. The dawn of anime fandom. Huddled in my little ratbox NYC apartment, I sat down with a copy of the July/August issue of the now-defunct Anime UK, which sported none other than ur-fan Helen McCarthy in the editor’s chair....

Jungle Emperor Leo (2009/10/23 05:02)
They called Osamu Tezuka the God-Emperor of Manga for a reason: he produced a whole bookshelf's full of work in his lifetime, and had as much impact on the art of comics as any one man has had in any...

Makai Tenshō (2003) (Samurai Resurrection) (2009/10/23 04:37)
All countries have their perennial movie subjects. Western viewers get treated to new cinematic versions of Dickens and Shakespeare every few years, and Japan has had no less than three movie adaptations of the immensely popular pulp-fantasy novel Makai Tensho...

The Most Terrible Time In My Life (2009/10/23 04:33)
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but in the movies they just call it homage. The Most Terrible Time In My Life might seem like parody at first, but it’s actually a sincere love letter to Hollywood’s hard-boiled...

Unearthed Dept. (2009/10/21 10:57)
A couple of new movie features are back from the archives. At kende sandheden (Facing The Truth) [2004/08/08], Blood: the Last Vampire [2006/09/09] (this is the original animated feature, which deserves to be back online before I look at the...

Death Sentence Dept. (2009/10/21 08:58)
Like genius and creativity before it, the word genocide has become so horribly misused and over-used that bringing it into a discussion now runs the risk of driving out more people than it might draw in. This is not to...

Yawn Dept. (2009/10/21 08:52)
The other night a friend nudged me with what I think she believed was a shameful admission. She'd rented Eraserhead on the recommendation of a friend, and after half an hour was getting cold feet. "Is it bad that I...

Theory Vs. Practice Dept. (2009/10/21 12:30)
"Academic film theory is b.s., a con game to obtain tenure." Cue the howls of rancor. Now press mute and consider. If academic film theory is cut from the same cloth of impenetrable word games as most of literary theory...

Upfront Dept. (2009/10/19 11:27)
Some of you have probably heard about the recent brouhaha about the FTC possibly cracking down on bloggers who receive freebies unless they provide full disclosure of their connections with advertisers. The whole thing is still very muddy, and an...

Rich In Wisdom Dept. (2009/10/18 08:38)
Frank Rich's op-ed reminds me of two conversations I've had recently. Conversation The First was with a former boss of mine. We were eating lunch together, and when he lamented the above-mention rise of the MBA I agreed completely. It was not...

Disconnected (Greymachine) (2009/10/18 12:30)
Do you remember Godflesh? I remember Godflesh. I remember Pure. I still speak of it, without irony, as an album that changed my life. I remember the relentless grinding of the first self-titled album, the utter despondency of Streetcleaner, the...

What a Wonderful World!, Vol. 1 (Inio Asano) (2009/10/17 07:15)
Let us say in life:No earthquakes are permissible.What happens then?—John Cage Some stories are all about the story—the mechanics, the details, the thing that happens. The guy gets the girl, the dog turns up safely, the bad guy is bisected...

Hot Air Dept. (2009/10/17 05:41)
Some of you might know Levitt & Dunbar's Freakonomics, a book in something of the Tipping Poing / Black Swan vein. The book's premise, since expanded into a regular New York Times feature, is that the economics of things are...

Berserk Vol. #31 (2009/10/16 08:49)
I think I’ve said “Now where the hell is all this going?” about thirty times—a couple of times for each volume, on the balance of it—ever since Berserk’s “Golden Age” arc ended and we were returned to what amounted to...

Bluterion Dept. (2009/10/16 07:01)
Criteron's newest wave of Blu-ray releases: Federico Fellini's 8½, Steven Soderbergh's Che, and Wim Wenders's Paris, Texas. I actually had a review planned for Paris, Texas but I think I'll hold off until the new edition is out. Paris, Texas...

20th Century Boys Vol. #5 (Naoki Urasawa) (2009/10/15 09:45)
My favorite movie of the last decade or so is Oldboy, and when I watch it with friends who haven’t seen it before I find myself not so much looking at the movie as I do their faces. I watch...

Name Game Claim Dept. (2009/10/15 01:09)
Looks like The Book Formerly Known As Vajra is now also going to be The Book Formerly Known As The Young Gods. Apparently the term is a trademarked title for a comic book, and there has already been legal action...

The World Sinks Except Japan (2009/10/14 08:39)
History lesson first. One of Japan’s best-selling novels in recent years was Sakyo Komatsu’s Japan Sinks, a bit of Crichton-like popular SF about seismic activity causing the Japanese islands to disappear into the Pacific. It was adapted into a hit...

Non-Fiction Dept. (2009/10/14 03:30)
1982. I was eleven years old. Most Sundays I would pick up the Times and read the sections that caught my attention: Arts & Leisure, the Sunday magazine. One weekend I opened the magazine and read the article that would...

Enlightened Development Dept. (2009/10/14 01:03)
Photographer Kyle Cassidy posted his experiences photographing the Dalai Lama on a recent trip to NYC. Part One, Part Two, Part Three....

Crash Into Me Dept. (2009/10/13 10:33)
One book that I wish could be updated for the present day is Martin Gardner's Fads and Fallacies: In The Name of Science. It was originally published in 1952 with some updates in 1957, and while it's remained in print...

Limelight Dept. (2009/10/13 12:23)
The folks at the Fan to Pro blog just posted an interview they conducted with me about self-publishing and the pitfalls therein....

20th Century Boys Vol. #4 (Naoki Urasawa) (2009/10/12 11:01)
His name is “Shogun”—he’s Japanese, after all—and most people in the Thai underworld run when they hear his name. He’s an enforcer for various underworld concerns, tough enough to get any number of girls to drape themselves over him at...

Vertices Dept. (2009/10/12 03:47)
Right Stuf's having a 33% off sale on all things Vertical, Inc. Go get them Black Jack back issues!...

A Bone To Pick With History Dept. (2009/10/11 05:00)
A little disinformation goes a long way. Remember the brouhaha about Hitler's bones not really being his? Turns out it's pretty much guff: Op-Ed Contributor - Hitler’s Jaws of Death - NYTimes.com I spent a few years reading alt.revisionism and...

You Love Chinese Food (Pablo's Eye) (2009/10/11 01:13)
One way you can tell casual listeners from self-appointed Music Fans: they have weird senses of organization. They are incapable of just filing things alphabetically. For a long time I thought I was the only person on the face of...

Crows Zero (2009/10/09 11:20)
At this point Takashi Miike could shoot a movie about tree bark and make it work. He has made films in every conceivable genre—and some of no conceivable genre—and is not only comfortable but downright revolutionary in many of them....

Bork Bork Bork Dept. (2009/10/08 09:38)
Don't ask me how I do these things. Somehow I ended up pushing the wrong button(s) in my Movable Type install and completely overwriting my custom template set -- which took me something like two years to build -- with...

Claymore Vol. 15 (Norihiro Yagi) (2009/10/08 09:33)
In many ways this is the volume of Claymore that every fan of this series has been waiting for. For one, it’ll be the last release for the series until the middle of next year, so if you were holding...

Monster X: Attack the G8 Summit (2009/10/07 06:19)
The laughs are sparse and sporadic in Monster X: Attack the G8 Summit, which is allegedly a spoof of man-in-suit-monster or kaiju movies. I say “allegedly” because the spoofing is only skin-deep: scrape off the surface comedy and what you’re...

Sayonara, Gangsters (Genichiro Takahashi) (2009/10/07 04:09)
I demand two things from a composer: invention, and that he astonish me. —Karlheinz Stockhausen This is the third time, or maybe the fourth time, I have tried to write a review of Genichiro Takahashi’s Sayonara Gangsters. The first time,...

Flying Pigs, Again Dept. (2009/10/05 06:43)
Great news from Discotek! They've just announced they've picked up Sea Prince and Fire Child, aka Shirisu no Densetsu, for a U.S. release. This is one of those lost titles that I've been hoping would be rescued from Licensing Limbo,...

Trash-ure Trove Dept. (2009/10/05 11:30)
Moving my system to a new set of hard drives gave me a good excuse to reorganize everything. My hard drives are a total digital Fibber's Closet: open the door and the bits spew out around your ankles and flood...

Usurper of the Sun (Housuke Nojiri) (2009/10/05 12:21)
Something inexplicable is happening on the surface of the planet Mercury. At first it looks like nothing more than a spire growing outwards into space, a mere hair on the lens of high-school student and amateur astronomer Aki Shiraishi’s telescope....

Advanced Technology Dept. (2009/10/04 12:57)
Regular visitors may have noticed I've been trying a couple of new format experiments with the site. One is the social-networking links for each article (DIGG ME DIGG ME -- just kidding), something I've avoided for a while but which...

Flashy Dept. (2009/10/03 02:02)
If you haven't seen FlashForward yet, do it. The first two episodes alone have me hooked....

Slicktime Dept. (2009/10/02 11:01)
As much as I hate Quicktime (slow, crummy implementation, takes forever to launch, Apple can't write Windows apps to save their lives), I nevertheless end up going to the Quicktime movie trailers site to get my fix of what's coming...

Toward the Terra (1980) (2009/10/02 06:33)
Parked immediately to the right of my monitor is an artifact from a previous home video era: a catalog of all LaserDisc titles released in Japan from the format’s inception until 1991. It’s the last edition published with pictures of...

Blade of the Immortal (2009/10/02 05:22)
Strange how a show that can seem to get everything outwardly right somehow also falls short. And I had half-expected Blade of the Immortal, the animated version of Hiroaki Samura’s manga, to fall short in some way. Here we had...

Dying Art Ltd. (2009/10/02 01:12)
Former Disney and Fox exec Bill Mechanic goes on record about the state of the film industry. ... the independent world, which should be aiming to do things better and different from the Studios, doesn’t have that as a mandate...

Tinker Tinker Dept. (2009/10/01 12:56)
I've been going back and forth over which of two projects to work on in the coming year -- either The Young Gods (formerly Vajra, never did like that title) or The Number of Magic. The way I pitch the...

The Midnight Meat Train (2009/09/30 09:18)
What a surprise. I didn’t expect much from The Midnight Meat Train, and I got what easily ranks as one of the better horror movies of the last few years. That might have something to do with the involvement of...

Under The Counter Dept. (2009/09/30 12:14)
On literary censorship in Hong Kong: Hong Kong Retailers Plan for One Holiday and Two Worlds - NYTimes.comTo me, the mere concept of literary censorship is on a par with things like medieval torture devices or female circumcision. And yet,...

The Rug Cop (2009/09/29 09:04)
Rug Cop ought to have been funnier, but it feels too much like a test run. It’s a spoof of hard-boiled Japanese detective movies and TV shows, courtesy of Minoru Kawasaki (he of Executive Koala infamy), and while some of...

Unlucky Monkey (2009/09/29 04:55)
“Willfully perverse” was the adjective that came to mind again and again throughout Unlucky Monkey. It’s about a would-be bank robber, Yamazaki, dragged through one unbelievable stroke of luck—good, bad, and horrible—after another. By the end of the film he’s...

Library Alpha Sort In Movable Type (2009/09/29 12:39)
For a while I've been trying to figure out how to get the Movies and Books sections of this site to have alpha-sorted listings with library-style alphabetization -- in other words, so that titles starting with "A/An/The" don't get sorted...

DeadJournal Dept. (2009/09/29 10:32)
Those of you with LiveJournal accounts probably heard about the recent little (cough) issue they had where a piece of cross-site scripting malware started trashing people's posts and infecting folks by jumping from one friend's list to the other. Frankly,...

Eberted Dept. (2009/09/28 10:44)
How's this for a few flavors of awesome? A shout-out from none other than Roger Ebert himself. Go here and search on "Serdar". This made my day in all kinds of ways....

Disappearing Act Dept. (2009/09/28 12:20)
My NYAF report is up at AMN -- and it's the last piece I'm doing for them of that size. After this the only things I'll be writing for them are reviews of material that I was already covering (like...

Onéchambara: Bikini Samurai Squad (2009/09/24 10:40)
Over at GigaOm there’s a piece that outlines three simple rules for making a hit video-game movie. Have it resemble an existing movie genre; put a hot chick in the lead; and keep the budget reasonable. Onéchambara sticks religiously to...

Samurai School: Be A Man! (2009/09/23 08:34)
I have no shame. I admit it, openly and proudly: Tak Sakaguchi is excuse enough for me to see any movie. After Versus and Death Trance and Battlefield Baseball and all the rest of the stuff he’s been in, having...

Just Asking Dept. (2009/09/23 04:09)
I've been moderating, or helping moderate, a couple of Internet communities for about ten years now. From very early on we had to find a way to deal with people who did a flamenco dance with the rules. You've seen...

Telempathy Dept. (2009/09/22 11:15)
From Asakiyume mita - translation from your mind to the page ... what you think you're conveying with your words isn't necessarily what the reader's apprehending. That's the whole reason for giving your story to some beta readers before you...

Obstructivist Dept. (2009/09/22 10:52)
I'm surrounded by shelves in here, but there sits to my immediate right a shelf which is specifically for books that I have read and which I have yet to write about. As of right now, it looks like this:...

Zoo (Otsuichi) (2009/09/20 11:33)
Otsuichi (乙一) writes his name with the characters for strange and one, and “strange” is certainly a good adjective for the stories in Zoo. These pieces fall somewhere between Rod Serling at his gotcha! best and the daymare world of...

Empire of Passion (2009/09/20 04:54)
Toyoji hasn’t done much since he got out of the army. He wanders around the little village where he’s currently bumming favors off people, still wearing his old soldier’s jacket, trying to get lucky wherever he can. He’s grown fond...

Executive Koala (2009/09/20 12:50)
Mr. Tamura is one of the hardest-working people in his company. He’s been burning midnight oil for months on end to get a crucial joint venture lined up with a Korean outfit. He’s uneasy about the fact that his wife...

Psychodrama Dept. (2009/09/18 05:35)
Those of you interested in the Summer of the Ubume should check out this terrific overview of the series -- and its attendant movie(s), and its anime adaptation! -- over at Iwa ni Hana. Note that there are some...

Illustrated Classics Dept. (2009/09/18 04:45)
From AICN Anime: Four classic works of Japanese literature will be adapted into the 12-episode Aoi Bungaku (Blue Literature) anime television series, set to premier on October 10. Adaptated works include:Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human (Ningen Shikkaku) Run, Melos! (Hashire,...

Now That's What I Call A Box Dept. (2009/09/18 12:26)
Akira Kurosawa. Criterion. A box set. The Digital Bits: Celebrating Film on Disc - DVD & Blu-ray The Bad Sleep Well (1960), Dodes'ka-den (1970), Drunken Angel (1948), The Hidden Fortress (1958), High and Low (1963), I Live in Fear (1955),...

Jungrail Dept. (2009/09/17 09:33)
How's this for a hook? A manuscript by C.G. Jung, long unseen, is now finally appearing in print and may change forever the way Jungian psychology has been conducted and considered. Magazine Preview - Carl Jung and the Holy Grail...

Techno Wretch Dept. (2009/09/17 02:42)
It's been a slightly frustrating week, technologically speaking. But the frustrations have balanced out nicely. Problem #1: The fan on my notebook died. This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't brand-new -- a Sony VGN-CS160J which I bought back...

Pro-Satan? Dept. (2009/09/15 08:06)
Lars von Trier's Antichrist (trailer here) is turning out to be this year's Irreversible -- the movie you hate or love, or love to hate, or hate loving because you love what it hates showing you so lovingly in such...

Let's Play Domination (World Domination Enterprises) (2009/09/15 01:04)
“As if I ain’t got trouble enough,” sneered Keith Dobson, and then blam—the speakers on my little Sharp brand boombox rattled like someone was raking them with a wire brush. Not that far from the truth, if the rumors were...

How Inspiring Dept. (2009/09/14 11:39)
Today's bit o' the dharma: Inspiration is perspiration. Anyone who waits around for lightning to strike -- instead of say, getting their butt outside during a thunderstorm -- is kidding themselves. To wit: From the essential kit - “I wonder...

Killing Machine (2009/09/14 11:28)
You can’t make a cult film. They just sort of happen. Killing Machine wants with every ounce of its blurry, pixilated self to be a cult classic, but desire isn’t enough. It has a decently interesting idea—Tetsuo: The Iron Man...

BDVs. Dept. (2009/09/13 11:45)
Three words.Versus on Blu-ray.Do I need to say anything else? Other than that the movie itself is classic....

Everyone's A Critic Dept. (2009/09/13 06:15)
Courtesy of Tanya Huff; file this one under tough love. The whole thing is worth reading; the excerpts are just what caught my attention the most. The tone of the piece is, admittedly, on the snide side -- but after...

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (2009/09/12 07:42)
Is it possible to be endeared by a movie because it is flawed and frustrating? I’ve grappled with that question before, and now with Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence I’m forced to deal with it all over again. Here is...

Could Have Told You That Dept. (2009/09/12 12:15)
In a book review in the Times today: Book Review - 'Why Are Jews Liberals?,' by Norman Podhoretz - Review - NYTimes.com I always felt the current political spectrum of conservative-to-progressive made little sense. Let's organize it this way: on...

Yo-Yo Girl Cop (Sukeban Deka) (2009/09/12 12:44)
Let me get this part out of the way. Is Yo-Yo Girl Cop a good movie? No. For god’s sake, look at the title. Yo-Yo Girl Cop. Come to think of it, forget the title; look at the artwork. Whoever...

Anti Dept. (2009/09/11 03:37)
Curious, this. Ebert's comments about Lars von Trier's movie Antichrist lead me to think the film has the same worldview as Berserk. Von Trier's original intention, it's said, was to reveal at the end that the world was created by...

Tokyo Inferno NOW ON SALE (2009/09/11 11:32)
Tokyo Inferno is now available immediately at Lulu.com. Go get it!I don't yet have copies in-house that can be signed, but as soon as I do there'll be an announcement to that effect. I'm waiting for the existing stock of...

AnimeFest 2009, The Rest Of The Story (2009/09/09 10:03)
On the plus side ... Being screwed out of a table (my fault, really) only slowed me down a little bit. Things got significantly better after Ronni Katz, the fine lady who was my table-neighbor last year, showed up. She...

AnimeFest 2009, Day 0 (2009/09/09 09:51)
<bitching> The general tone for my flight out to Dallas was set when I struggled into the restroom at the tail of the plane and tried to get Business Done, only to be interrupted by someone jiggling the door handle....

Flickrz Dept. (2009/09/08 01:58)
Some key bits of news courtesy of AICN Anime: Kodansha will be releasing Akira and Ghost in the Shell this fall. Dark Horse lost the rights to those titles a little while back, and I'd heard Kodansha was just going...

Pain Growings Dept. (2009/09/08 12:17)
Ryū Murakami weighs in on Japan's belated coming-of-age:Op-Ed Contributor - Japan Comes of Age - NYTimes.com...

Evil Dept. (2009/09/02 11:22)
In other news, I opted out of the Google Books settlement. Read why here....

I Am an S&M Writer (2009/09/01 12:33)
With a title like I Am An S&M Writer, I expected some unbridled sleaze-pit. What I got was something far wittier and funnier than such a label would lead you to believe. It’s more in the vein of a black...

Book 'Em Dept. (2009/08/31 04:57)
There's a piece by Lev Grossman over at the Wall Street Journal, which is ostensibly about how Plots and Genre Concerns are being made respectable in the Novel once again. Yes, I'm using the Init Caps for Shorthand Sarcasm. Cue...

Sneak Peek Dept. (2009/08/30 09:46)
Been wanting to get your hands on Tokyo Inferno? Read the first three chapters free in PDF format, or on Scribd.(Once again, I'll have actual printed copies available for sale once I get back next week.)...

What Happens In Texas Dept. (2009/08/30 08:16)
Tokyo Inferno and all the other books are on their way to Dallas right now, way ahead of me getting there. I'd actually taken a bit of a gamble by doing this; some part of me wanted to have the...

Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea (2009/08/30 01:25)
One of the last shots of Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea is a very bad CGI shot of an arrow flying up through the clouds. It’s emblematic of all that’s wrong with this movie: obvious,...

Paprika (Yasutaka Tsutsui) (2009/08/28 08:09)
It seems you’ve been living two lives, Miss Chiba. In one, you are Atsuko Chiba, an accomplished researcher and therapist working for the Institute for Psychiatric Research. You’re a hard worker, a dedicated scientist, and on the shortlist for the...

ICly Dept. (2009/08/28 11:48)
An aspiring writer friend of mine composes all of his fiction in the first person. The character is always an "I", not a "he" or a "she" (or an "it", or even a "they", but I digress). I've been more...

Missing In Action Dept. (2009/08/26 11:27)
And now time for a quick roundup of movies from my Region 2 import list that haven't yet shown up domestically. Some of these have been discussed before, but are worth mentioning periodically. Away with Words: Funny, surreal, touching, weird,...

Mushi-shi: The Movie (2009/08/25 08:22)
I fully expected the live-action version of Mushi-shi to be beautiful and spellbinding. I did not expect it to also be a deeply moving experience. Then again, the same held true for the original story, which surprised me to no...

Out The Door (2009/08/25 12:26)
And so Tokyo Inferno is done and off to the printer's. At last! I won't be making the book available from the website just yet -- I want to get all that settled after I get back from AnimeFest...

Grotesque (Natsuo Kirino) (2009/08/25 12:45)
I struggle with myself. On the one hand I want to write a rave review of Grotesque, one that might verge on being fulsome in its praise. On the other hand, I want to red-pencil the book, to trim out...

Noted Dept. (2009/08/24 04:17)
AICN Anime gave me a shout-out for my piece about the very, very bad Black Jack remake manga. (Search on "Serdar") and you'll find it on that page. Thanks, Scott!...

20th Century Boys Vol. #3 (2009/08/22 10:37)
Volume 3 of 20th Century Boys plays like a compendium of every paranoid nightmare you’ve ever had. You are in front of a hostile crowd, singled out for ridicule and aggression. You are dead certain something horrible is going to...

Facebook | Genji Press (2009/08/21 12:15)
There's now an official Facebook page for Genji Press. At least, I think that's the address to use -- I hate the fact that it's next to impossible these days to tell what the actual permalink is for such a...

Darker Than Black Vol. 6 (2009/08/20 11:35)
Strictly speaking, this isn’t the end of Darker Than Black. It’s just the end of the beginning, with another season of the show gearing up in Japan and perhaps headed our way sometime next year. But it brings some degree...

Guilty As Charged Dept. (2009/08/20 01:44)
Chuck Klosterman goes to town on the etymology of the Guilty Pleasure: What the authors of The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures (and everyone else who uses this term) fail to realize is that the only people who believe in some...

Gross Anatomy: Black Jack Butchered In The Remaking (2009/08/18 03:02)
Truth in advertising. Ever get the feeling you’d been cheated? There’s a clutch of words that when uttered in the presence of fans can elicit near-homicidal reactions. One of them is censorship: if there’s even the suggestion that a title...

Iffy Skiffy Dept. (2009/08/18 12:20)
There's been a spate of SF and near-SF movies recently, the reviews of which helped me pull together a thesis or two. On the one hand we have the well-reviewed and -received District 9. I'm extremely interested in seeing it,...

Shadows of Blu Dept. (2009/08/18 09:24)
Don't forget - Criterion's BD of Kagemusha streets this week. With any luck Ran will follow later this year once the rights nonsense with the Weinstein crew has been unsnarled. Also check out my review (from the Criterion DVD)....

Black Lagoon Vol. #7 (2009/08/17 01:42)
Two volumes back I noted that Black Lagoon is one volume setup and one volume payoff. Volume 7 is almost entirely setup with one big dollop of gunbunny lunacy in the opening chapters to whet the appetite. But it’s good...

The Big Cleanup (2009/08/16 01:00)
Tokyo Inferno is now as done as it gets! That is, at least until I get some word back from my selected proofreaders and editors. Once I have texts back from them, I'll be able to post my usual teaser...

Suicide Watch Dept. (2009/08/14 07:51)
This whole issue has been discussed in detail elsewhere -- it involves a saber-rattling Dan Simmons piece about a time traveler, stop me if you've heard this one before -- but here's a perspective that's worth noting. (The Simmons piece...

Retrovirus Dept. (2009/08/14 01:30)
Capone Talks To Chan-wook Park About THIRST [AICN]I would like to consider myself as a germ who enters into the system of genres and creates changes, or changes the DNA or the makeup of the genre in some way,...

Vampire Hunter D Novel Volume 12: Pale Fallen Angel, Parts 3 and 4 (2009/08/14 12:30)
Is it possible to enjoy a book because of its limitations, as much as you might enjoy it despite them? I’m faced with this issue right now because after all four (or two) volumes of Pale Fallen Angel, I can’t...

Only Connect Dept. (2009/08/12 05:57)
The other night I had a conversation with a friend that was sparked by him expressing his disgust with and contempt for the anti-Obama crowd in many of its incarnations -- the "birther" crew, the "tea party" people, etc. It...

Just Up That Dirt Road Dept. (2009/08/12 11:24)
The short-term plan is simple: Finish Tokyo Inferno, send it to the printer's, sell it at AnimeFest, return home, take three stiff drinks and sleep for a week. And then?Take the rest of the year off.By that, I mean take...

In The Chops Dept. (2009/08/11 09:05)
The ever-excellent Orac takes his Cleats of Logic to the face of the "Obama=Hitler" crowd. He also does a nice bit of shoe-leather research in actually digging up the text of the debated legislation and examining it in detail, which...

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Vol. 1 (2009/08/11 08:12)
How do you solve a problem like Haruhi? —with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein II There’s a lot about Kyon’s new school that he doesn’t like. The long walk all the way uphill to get to it, for instance. The...

Hatchet Jobs Dept. (2009/08/11 06:35)
Editing on Tokyo Inferno is moving at a decent clip, all things considered. I'm about 2/5ths of the way through the first (cleanup) pass; then I hope by before the weekend I can do the actual logic/plotting pass. And then...

The Summer of the Ubume (Natsuhiko Kyogoku) (2009/08/11 04:41)
Tokyo, 1952. Out of the ashes of war, a new society has sprouted: democratically inclined, scientifically rigorous, and socially progressive (or so it likes to think). But like Rome, this modern Japan is built directly on top of the ruins...

Fun Indeed Dept. (2009/08/11 02:44)
I posted about this over at AMN, but FUNimation has seen fit to grace us with Blu-ray editions of truly kick-butt shows as of the end of this year: Basilisk, Samurai Champloo, Tsubasa, and the live-action Ichi (the female Zatōichi...

Amaclosetzon Dept. (2009/08/09 10:09)
Time for a little Amazon backtracking! The live-action version of the outstanding Mushi-shi is headed Stateside! Right now all we get is the regular DVD, but this had better be a candidate for a Blu-ray release at some point. Incidentally,...

Avant-Derriere Dept. (2009/08/08 02:57)
Pet peeve time.Sometimes I run into a writer expressing a sentiment which I will paraphrase as follows: I know that the way I write isn't for everyone, and I don't expect everyone to like it. I have my own voice...

Wake Yourself Up Dept. (2009/08/08 11:02)
For the Time Being - Happy Days Blog - NYTimes.comAs far as the feeling of being alive goes, I'd put it more this way. All of us, I think, knows what it feels like to be alive -- that...

Unlockstep Dept. (2009/08/07 10:16)
Ebert drops some hints as to why good movies get short shrift from younger viewers (the crowd that has long been associated with avid moviegoing): Roger Ebert's Journal: The gathering Dark Age... despite "The Hurt Locker's" impressive box office success,...

Burn Baby Burn Dept. (2009/08/07 12:28)
The first draft of Tokyo Inferno is finished, at just over 100,000 words. Now comes the hard part: getting it hammered into shape and taking delivery of the finished product before AnimeFest. If I edit about five chapters a day,...

Bad News Dept. (2009/08/06 05:56)
In re.: Rupert Murdoch's plan to force people to pay for News Corp. content on the web: Murdoch Mans Up - The Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.comThe general consensus re: the paywall is that he will simply achieve with this what...

Sandlogged Dept. (2009/08/06 04:14)
Apparently director Peter Berg (Hancock, The Kingdom) has been working on getting a third adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune to the big screen. I'd heard about this new adaptation a while back but wasn't sure it was ever going...

Indie Jones Dept. (2009/08/04 09:59)
Among the books I picked up during a one-dollar spree at The Strand a while back is a nifty little volume entitled Off-Hollywood: The Making and Marketing of Independent Films. The emphasis is as much on the marketing as it...

Laugh When Ready Dept. (2009/08/04 04:21)
Right now the news is reporting that Bill Clinton met privately with Kim Jong Il (a notoriously rabid movie fan) and brokered a deal to release two American journalists accused of espionage by North Korea.So, how did Bill do it?...

Blink And You Won't Miss It Dept. (2009/08/04 03:46)
On the devaluation of monsters... and movies - scanners Just because it can be shown, doesn't mean it should be. A movie with all "money shots" has no climaxes. It just neutralizes itself. The rules of storytelling apply to CGI:...

Make A Joyful Noise Dept. (2009/08/03 12:30)
Musique Machine has a fairly detailed interview with Merzbow / Masami Akita here. Some nice notes about his use of drums, past and present, and some additional details about how he feels his anti-meat-eating stance is also a pro-environmental stance....

Spiffy Skiffy Dept. (2009/08/03 12:04)
Fellow writer Catherynne M. Valente mulls over writing SF after spending a long time being a fantasy writer: Rules for Anchorites - On Writing SF I also feel, mostly because for me SF is the Mysterious Other, that it's much...

Chameleon Street (2009/08/02 09:27)
I think, therefore I scam. I think back to when someone was buttonholing Miles Davis about what Bitches Brew was supposed to be (jazz? rock? experimental?) and he replied, simply, “Music.” Chameleon Street is a movie. It isn’t merely a...

Away With Words (Kujaku) (San tiao ren) (2009/07/31 10:30)
I only need my imagination for the things I want to do and the places I want to go. -- Asano The same could be said of Christopher Doyle, the Australian-born, HK-based cinematographer who directed Away With Words. It's...

Choose or Lose Dept. (2009/07/31 04:00)
Guin Saga gamebook Something I forgot to mention about my last trip into the city for Vertical Vendesday. While at Book-Off, scouring for rarities, I bumped into something that surprised even Ioannis: a Guin Saga tie-in game book that amounted...

×××HOLiC: The Complete Series (2009/07/31 03:48)
You can take away a man's gods, but only to give him others in return.—Carl-Gustav Jung Case in point: Kimihiro Watanuki of ×××HOLiC. His god, as it were, is his unwanted ability to sense spirits and draw them to himself....

Intake Dept. (2009/07/31 01:55)
Blame obesity on mass food production and the cost, in terms of time involved, to make meals: Magazine Preview - Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch - NYTimes.comSayonara, Mr. Fatty! hinted at many of the same things, too --...

Pieta Dept. (2009/07/31 12:45)
I will begin with a simple question, one which you are free to reply to right now without reading the rest of this: What do you do when you find that an artist whose work you admire deeply -- be...

Vertical Vednesday In NYC: Lighten Up! (2009/07/30 05:56)
July 29, 2009. Wednesday. New York City. Forecast: Rain, lots of it. That’s not going to stop me, I mused, and packed everything I was taking with me in a thick-walled plastic bag courtesy of the duty-free zone at Dublin...

Kurohime Vol. 13 (2009/07/28 05:04)
The hardest part of this job is figuring out when a series that looks like a dud is just a late bloomer. I didn’t get winner’s vibes from the first couple of volumes of Kurohime; the whole thing seemed like...

Pusillanimous Dept. (2009/07/28 04:38)
Comic-Con '09: Peter Jackson talks to Capone about DISTRICT 9, THE HOBBIT, and the state of the film industry... the film industry is in a really weird position at the moment. If I think about it too much, I...

Brain Trip Dept. (2009/07/28 11:49)
Why We Get Lost in Books - Yahoo! NewsAny avid reader knows the power of a book to transport you into another world, be it the wizard realm of "Harry Potter" or the legal intrigue of the latest John...

Children of the Sea Graphic Novel 1 (2009/07/27 10:54)
Ruka’s vacation is ruined right on the first day of summer. She hits another girl in the face with her elbow during a handball game—in her mind, it’s payback for having her foot stomped—and the coach lays down the law:...

Zonama Dept. (2009/07/27 09:43)
Black Rain -- the good Shohei Imamura movie, not the crappy Michael Douglas one -- is getting a long-overdue DVD issue thanks to AnimEigo. The artwork for the first Blade of the Immortal DVD is right on the freakin' money....

Went There Did That Dept. (2009/07/27 12:54)
I spent Sunday at my parent's house -- first time I'd seen them in months, since they were overseas and enjoying the company of relatives in Turkey and Ireland. There was home cooking, tech support (dad's notebook needed a wipe-down)...

D'or Oh! Dept. (2009/07/25 01:32)
Osamu Tezuka's Dororo Manga Wins Eisner Award - Anime News NetworkOsamu Tezuka's Dororo manga (Vertical) has won the Will Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Japan at Comic-Con International on Friday evening in San Diego, California. Dororo is...

Claymore Vol. 6 (2009/07/24 09:53)
Now that all is said and done, the whole of Claymore (or at least its first season) has been a journey towards a single smile. Beyond the bloodshed and severed limbs and all the torment endured by everyone, especially Claire,...

Black Lagoon Vol. #6 (2009/07/23 10:45)
Black Lagoon has, from all we’ve seen, two types of storylines. The first is the slower, longer, more over-arching plot threads, like the Washimine-gumi saga that filled most of the last two volumes. Then there are the adventures where the...

Pieces Missing Dept. (2009/07/23 09:35)
First, let's get this out of the way. If you take seriously, even for a minute, the thoroughly risible conceit that Barack Obama is not an American citizen or has forged credentials to that effect or some nitwit variant of...

Bolt From The Blue Dept. (2009/07/23 02:33)
I love being hit by lightning. See, I didn't go to Otakon for inspiration. The inspiration stork drops idea babies quite regularly into my house. I have notebooks full of unused ideas, just waiting for me to pick through them...

Otakked Dept. (2009/07/22 11:07)
I'll be back at Otakon next year, but I suspect I might not be going as press. Instead, I may well go as Press -- Genji Press, to be precise. I've been musing this over for a while now, and...

Take A Look Dept. (2009/07/21 10:51)
Full Otakon 2009 photo gallery is now live.Look fast for the Shamwow Guy cosplayer....

Over Berlin Dept. (2009/07/20 02:53)
Wim Wender's Wings of Desire is getting a Criterion Blu-ray release. Ditto Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding. Can't wait for either of those!...

Landfall Dept. (2009/07/20 11:58)
I'm back from Otakon '09 and getting caught up with everything. This may take as much as two days. I've got some coverage of the show up already, with more to come. There's a roundtable discussion with Mary Elizabeth McGlynn...

Halfway There Dept. (2009/07/16 10:16)
Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey, where I'm taking a brief respite from snaking up and down the highways on my way to Otakon 2009. I'll be heading back on the road momentarily, but once I'm firmly ensconced in the...

Kid Stuff Dept. (2009/07/15 12:00)
The hardest sort of story to write is not autobiographical, experimental / post-whatever or stories about faraway or fictional societies. It's children's books. I've come to this conclusion again and again, especially after reading something like Kiki's Delivery Service and...

A Peek Up And Down Dept. (2009/07/13 04:05)
Publishers Weekly has a quick profile of Vertical, Inc., one of my favorite publishers around. This came by way of AICN Anime, along with a couple of other interesting albeit unsourced tidbits. This one in particular caught my eye:Tajomaru, the...

Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (2009/07/13 12:45)
Here’s a metaphor for you: Takashi Miike has become the David Bowie of Japanese filmmaking. Just when you think you’ve got him pinned down, he metamorphoses on you into something entirely different. There’s the Miike that gave us the reprehensible...

Monotyping Dept. (2009/07/13 11:04)
Jim C. Hines - On Turning a Blind EyeBefore I left on vacation, I was planning to do a post about the sexist aspects of Transformers 2. ... I kept coming across the same reactions. “It’s just a summer...

Tokyo Decadence (2009/07/13 12:42)
From the outside, Tokyo Decadence looks and smells like the 1990s version of In the Realm of the Senses. It oozes with sex and social criticism alike, employing sleaze as a delivery mechanism for its deeper message. But while Senses...

Perfeckt Dept. (2009/07/12 07:01)
Between cleaning up one thing and another, I stumbled across a bunch of notes I'd been putting together for prospective fellow critics/reviewers. One of the little bylaws-to-self written there was: "Don't look for 'perfect'."Part of the problem I have with...

Okuda's Oddity Dept. (2009/07/11 01:37)
The AnimeNation blog has a post about a most peculiar-looking TV series in the pipeline named Kuchu Buranko. Turns out the whole thing is from a novel by Hideo Okuda, he of Lala Pipo fame. That automatically makes it a...

Hurtin' Dept. (2009/07/10 10:32)
Roger Ebert's Journal: Archives"The Hurt Locker" represents a return to strong, exciting narrative. Here is a film about a bomb disposal expert that depends on character, dialogue and situation to develop almost unbearable suspense. It contains explosions, but only...

Cancelled Dept. (2009/07/10 01:56)
Earlier in the year I picked up a mail meter. I send out a fair amount of mail -- book orders, stuff I've sold on Amazon, things like that -- so it seemed like the smart thing to do. The...

Black Jack Vol. #6 (2009/07/09 10:13)
In a fight between you and the world, bet on the world.—Attributed to Franz KafkaExcept that some people like that sort of thing. They get a charge out of bucking the odds—the worse the odds, the bigger the thrill. They’re...

Backcatalog Dept. (2009/07/09 10:03)
Dug around in the archives and posted some older reviews including The President's Last Bang and The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On.Also, one of the reviews that generated an incredible amount of feedback: my take on The Last Unicorn. That's...

Didn't Suck Dept. (2009/07/09 01:00)
Blood: The Last Vampire :: rogerebert.com :: ReviewsSaya is 16 and has been 16 for a very long time. What’s interesting about teenage vampires, such as the hero of “Twilight,” is that they’re frozen in time while old enough...

Hayao Out West Dept. (2009/07/08 07:27)
Hayao Miyazaki, Anime’s Master, to Visit San Diego Comic-Con - NYTimes.comVery good to see the man getting his day in the sun over here. The article also notes, though, that "maybe a third" of the Comic-Con attendees will care...

KIRI KIRI KIRI KIRI KIRI! Dept. (2009/07/08 12:38)
Another one I overlooked. Takashi Miike's Audition hits Blu-ray in October. I looked at it back on DVD but I think I significantly underrated it at the time, and it's going to be worth a second look. I'm personally hoping...

Amasszon Dept. (2009/07/07 01:13)
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GiG is getting a priced-down reissue in September thanks to Bandai. No word on domestic issues of the Blu-ray versions of the series (or even the remix of the movie, which I've...

Tropealong Cassidy Dept. (2009/07/07 12:55)
I suspect few people reading this don't know about TVTropes, one of the few sites that gives Wikipedia itself a run for the money in the Where Did The Time Go Dept. It's also easy to read it, to ignore...

Gulp Dept. (2009/07/06 07:17)
Or file this under "How'd I Miss This?" if you will. Another of Osamu Tezuka's creations, Swallowing the Earth, is coming out Stateside thanks to Digital Manga. I'd expected Vertical, Inc. to pick this one up -- they've become a...

Berserk Vol. #29 (2009/07/05 09:51)
Volume 29 of Berserk is Berserk as we may well have to like it. That must sound miles removed from the fanboy-ish praise I know I’ve lavished on this series in the first ten to twelve volumes of its run....

Tip O' The Hat Dept. (2009/07/04 09:48)
A quick shout of thanks to Scott Green's Anime AICN column for mentioning me. Go here and search on "Genji Press"....

Big Screen, Little City Dept. (2009/07/04 09:38)
Some doom-and-gloom about Asian film: Exit the dragon - Beyond the Multiplex - Salon.com... most of the NYAFF's ... movies will be reaching a theater near you, uh, well ... Hmm. I'm not exactly sure when, but here's a good...

Maiko haaaan!!! (2009/07/04 05:30)
The Japanese word otaku has been backported into English, where it has the relatively innocuous meaning “Japanese pop culture fan”. In Japanese, however, the word carries far nastier baggage—it’s nerd multiplied by geek and then raised to the power of...

'Tis Of Thee Dept. (2009/07/04 11:51)
Happy birthday, United States. You made it this far through a lot.I wish I still lived in the city for a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest was being able to walk to the East River and see...

Kaidan (2009/07/03 11:52)
Kaidan’s an experiment in contrasting forms, shilling for conflicting. Take one of the samurai-horror flicks of the Fifties and Sixties, bring it up to date with modulated acting styles, psychological realism and understated visual style, and then force the conceits...

Blood +: Adagio Vol. #1 (2009/07/03 12:30)
I once theorized that the difference between Japanese and American comics is that the former are about characters and stories while the latter are about franchises. I’m in the process of being proven wrong about this—or maybe it’s just the...

How To Operate With A Blown Mind Dept. (2009/06/30 03:21)
I love Japan. Twitch - Noboru Iguchi Says ‘Geisha Is Beautiful!  Geisha is Robot!’ It’s the ROBOGEISHA Trailer!... I don't think I've ever said "What the f___" so many times in a row while watching a trailer.I love Japan.Iguchi is...

Oh Boy Dept. (2009/06/29 10:32)
Some of you might remember how Oldboy (one of my favorite flicks, period) has been the target of at least two attempts to bring it to the big screen in the U.S. The first was in the hands of director...

Tokyo Rampage (2009/06/29 01:51)
Tokyo Rampage is an example of a movie that’s not very good but remains interesting despite itself. It’s set in modern-day Tokyo and deals with one of the perennial subjects of filmmakers there: disaffected youth and sociopathic Tokyo criminals....

13 Japanese Birds, Vol. 2: Owl (Merzbow) (2009/06/29 12:46)
I got into music backwards. I started with the excesses of Merzbow and the murderous overkill of the Swans, and then reversed gears into more conventional territory. And even then I was still going backwards: I didn’t start my Coltrane...

Kao (Face) (2009/06/29 12:03)
Funny, touching, enthralling, horrifying, and finally heartbreaking, Face is precisely the kind of movie I love most to encounter and then tell others about. No category will encompass it succinctly; it’s an original. One critic called it the greatest Japanese...

Darker Than Black Vol. 5 (2009/06/28 10:19)
Darker Than Black caught my attention from the beginning, held it through each successive installment, and continues to keep me guessing and absorbed. Volume five, the next to last disc in the whole series, does what most penultimate volumes of...

Wire Protocol Dept. (2009/06/27 11:49)
Since many of the FUNimation DVD titles I've looked at are now available as streaming video from the FUNimation site, I've added links to them within each review. I may add more links of the kind as we go on....

Mushi-shi Vol. #6 (2009/06/27 08:29)
A show this good should not have to end. And yet here we are at the sixth and final disc of Mushi-shi, as beautiful and original an anime as any I could ever dare to ask for, and I feel...

Bushido, The Remix Dept. (2009/06/27 05:47)
Samurai Champloo, about which I have raved lovingly, now has its first eight episodes available on the web as a free streaming item courtesy of FUNimation. (Note: English dub only.)...

Tick Tick Tick Dept. (2009/06/27 11:19)
The trailer for Roland Emmerich's new apoc-buster 2012 is now online, in QuickTime format. I couldn't watch it more than halfway through without wanting to throw something at the screen -- mainly, my head.I know that under it all Emmerich...

Scribbler's Delight Dept. (2009/06/27 01:17)
Back at AnimeNext, I mentioned offhandedly to fellow budding writer David S. McCrae "Any writer who wants to call himself one should have a fountain pen." (Paraphrasing from memory, but that was the gist of it.) I wasn't kidding then,...

Clunker Dept. (2009/06/26 09:08)
The toy that does all the playing for/at you - scannersWhy waste spleen on Michael Bay? Because it was 2.5 hours of interminable badness. I'm not being facetious or cute when I say I thought it was much longer...

In Disguise Dept. (2009/06/24 05:46)
I haven't seen the second Transformers movie yet (the first one gave me gout of the soul) but I did think about a couple of things.1. What would have happened if the Transformers franchise had been brought to the screen...

Off the Deep End Dept. (2009/06/23 11:01)
The official U.S. trailer for Miyazaki's Ponyo on a Cliff is up at the Quicktime site. The unbelievably lame tagline is wince-worthy ("Welcome To A World Where Anything Is Possible" -- thud goes the back of my head against the...

Black Lagoon Vol. #5 (2009/06/23 02:38)
About halfway through volume five of Black Lagoon comes a realization about who and what has been driving this story. We know it’s been about the hapless Japanese ex-salaryman Rock and his newfound life as a member of the mercenary...

Count Pointercount Dept. (2009/06/22 12:56)
My good friend B McD has his own follow-up installment in the "genesis of the bad LotR clones" discussion. I'm just coming off a whole flood of finished work (as if you couldn't tell from the spamblogalicious posts I just...

All You Need Is Kill (2009/06/21 11:58)
Private Keiji Kiriya lives in a nightmare. Literally. Every day he wakes up, works out, dons his suit of powered super-armor, dives into combat to defend Earth from invasion by the alien “Mimics”, gets killed—and wakes up back in his...

Kairo (Pulse) (Signal) (2009/06/21 07:24)
After Hideo Nakata and the Killer Videotape of Ring, we now get Kiyoshi Kurosawa (of Cure) with a Killer Web Site. Actually, Kairo (or Circuit, as it has been rendered into English) is much smarter and maybe even a...

Bright Future (2009/06/21 07:17)
Yuji and Mamoru work in a hand-towel factory, a futureless job that seems perfectly suited to two such futureless people. Yuji (Jō Odagiri) is impulsive and confused: he needs someone to guide him in life, and Mamoru (Tadanobu Asano),...

Charisma (2009/06/21 07:12)
The best movies seem effortless, and Charisma embodies its intentions so effortlessly it almost seems like an accident. Here is a movie about a struggle over a tree, of all things, and yet somehow the director and the cast...

Doppelganger (2009/06/21 07:00)
There have been many stories about people encountering an exact double of themselves, but my favorite approach to this situation is the social one: we’re never quite so weird as when we’re seeing ourselves in a mirror. Polish author Stanis­ław...

Retribution (2009/06/21 06:52)
For the first three-fourths of Retribution, I thought Kiyoshi Kurosawa had given us the best film of his career apart from Cure. Then, in the last fifteen to twenty minutes of the film, he managed to completely undo that feeling....

Tolked Out Dept. (2009/06/21 11:24)
The question:... why, out of all of the 'Tolkien-clones' that the publishers crank out, very very few of them even begin to approximate the original.The short answer goes something like this: Because Tolkien was a brilliant man who was doing...

Cure (2009/06/21 10:53)
Cure conjures up the kind of primal dread that I thought the movies had forgotten about. Its shocks and scares are like sleight-of-hand: the real effects of the movie are only felt long after it is over. I have spoken...

Wry Dept. (2009/06/21 02:07)
Has The Catcher in the Rye lost its luster with time?Get a Life, Holden Caulfield - NYTimes.com It's tempting to say that we've collectively outgrown the book, but I'm not sure about that one.I bumped into The Little Maroon Book...

Why Do I D.I.Y.? Dept. (2009/06/20 01:22)
From hereI was intrigued by your comment over at Jim Hines's journal that you had decided to go the self-publishing route, writing for the audience you had developed, even though you knew the limitations that that route imposes. How did...

Black Jack Vol. #5 (2009/06/20 12:08)
There are moments when volume 5 of Black Jack is unbelievably disappointing. There are also as many moments, if not more so, when it is elating and exciting and challenging. In short, when it is the Black Jack—and the Osamu...

Eraserhead (2009/06/19 08:58)
Eraserhead is best seen, not described. And yet, in the fifteen years since first seeing David Lynch’s first feature film, thanks to a tape from a local rental place, I’ve tried to do just that over and over again for...

Prodigal Pen Dept. (2009/06/19 01:49)
A discussion over at MizKit's LJ about self-publishing (among other things) yielded up this comment:The problem was [as a younger writer], I just wasn't very good. [me. --ed]That is, of course, the baseline problem with most writing. As newguydave just...

Trilogy in Three Parts Dept. (2009/06/18 10:24)
Sometime in the coming year I may end up getting back to work on a project I never finished. Tentatively titled Vajra, it was my NaNo project for 2007; it fell short of the needed word count for the month...

Sayonara, Mr. Fatty!: A Geek's Diet Memoir (Toshio Okuda) (2009/06/18 05:00)
“Reality counts for a lot.” Despite the label on the cover (A Geek’s Diet Memoir), Sayonara, Mr. Fatty! is not a “diet book”. If anything, it’s an anti-diet book, much as Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos was an anti-self-help...

Departing Dept. (2009/06/18 03:43)
My eldest cat Tasha (15 years) had to be put to sleep today due to what appeared to be kidney failure. Her brother, Boris, suffered from the same problems at the tender age of four.She wasn't the brightest or most...

Suehiro's First Gasp Dept. (2009/06/18 10:18)
It's been reported elsewhere, but worth echoing here: Last Gasp is publishing a previously-untranslated Suehiro Maruo title in English, The Strange Tale of Panorama Island. This one sounds more straightforwardly surreal and strange than out-and-out grotesque for Maruo, but we'll...

On The Nose Dept. (2009/06/17 12:57)
Twitter / Catherynne Valente: I think one of the most im ...I think one of the most important skills a writer can have is the ability to differentiate between A Really Good Idea and The Right Idea.A really good...

Contextual Dept. (2009/06/17 11:41)
Reading Sōseki Natsume's Ten Nights' Dreams brought back many old questions about how translation is supposed to work. The opening line to each chapter is the same, and while the original Japanese text is unambiguous --こんな夢を見た。-- you could render this...

CritCollDept. (2009/06/16 09:27)
Criterion has two new announcements on conventional DVD: David Mamet's Homicide, and another title that Danny Peary covered in his legendary Cult Movies series: That Hamilton Woman.The former impressed me when I first saw it; the latter has, as far as...

Tinker, Tinker Dept. (2009/06/16 09:07)
Two things:1) I just upgraded the site to MT 4.25, so if there are any hiccups, drop me a note here.2) I'm now experimenting with using Chrome as a browser for posting to MT, rather than Windows Live Writer. I'm...

Gestalt Vol. #1 (2009/06/16 05:48)
Here is your analogy for the day: Gestalt is like a really good hamburger. The ingredients come as no surprise, and neither is the form they come in—but is there anyone here who doesn’t like a really good hamburger? (Apologies...

Greene With Envy Dept. (2009/06/16 03:24)
A nice item over at the Times about Graham Greene and the movies made from his novels: The Screen’s Seduction of Graham Greene, in Films Like ‘Brighton Rock’ - NYTimes.com Greene is one of those writers who doesn't get much...

Claymore Vol. 5 (2009/06/16 01:17)
I generally have two kinds of experiences when reviewing a series I’ve already had under way. Experience #1 is, I put the disc in and for some reason have the worst time even watching a single episode all the way...

Thin Green Line Dept. (2009/06/15 04:40)
Much has already been said about the Iranian election; I suspect very little I would have to say would not be an echo of something said elsewhere. But one thing strikes me: the amount of people from within Iran using...

Home Turf Dept. (2009/06/15 12:56)
Oh, and I'm back from AnimeNext! (Photos here.)For all of those who came by my table and bought Summerworld and Four-Day Weekend: Thank you. I hope you enjoy both of them immensely. I'll be back next year with more books...

A Long, Long Time Ago Dept. (2009/06/15 12:26)
A reprint of an essay from 30 years hence about the state of the movies. The Summer of '77 :: rogerebert.com :: News & commentI read the other day that 13 percent of total U.S. paperback sales (yes, 13 percent)...

Seul Contre Tous Dept. (2009/06/11 05:10)
After the killings of George Tiller and Stephen Tyrone Johns, there's discussion over at the Times about the tangled morality and ethics of permitting hateful speech. Hate Crimes and Extremist Politics - Room for Debate Blog - NYTimes.com Back in...

Wrath of Con (Job) Dept. (2009/06/10 09:32)
My good buddy McD dissents from my dissention. There's a lot here to chew on -- a lot of it does, I think, come down to "what does Star Trek mean for all involved" (i.e,. personal interpretation), although my feeling...

Off the Trek Dept. (2009/06/10 04:46)
A fierce dissection of Star Trek (the new movie). I read it and realized something: I'd enjoyed the movie while it was unfolding, but after a week I really hadn't given it a second thought. It had gone in one...

A Peek Ahead Dept. (2009/06/10 02:21)
I was putting together a Suggested Reading list for a friend of mine, something for him to chew on while he worked on his next book. His current book (I'll have more to say about that soon) dealt with...

Lemination Dept. (2009/06/09 12:44)
Cinemascope » Ari Folman looks into a future past “Bashir”.... Folman has previously disclosed his intention on diving back into animation and named the adaptation of Stanisław Lem’s 1971 novel The Futurological Congress as his next project.Color me very sold....

Jukebox Hero Dept. (2009/06/09 02:08)
Over at AICN (don't laugh -- ah, crap, too late) there's a reprint of a pretty good interview with screenwriter / novelist Rudy Wurlitzer. He jammed around with the likes of Hal Ashby and Sam Peckinpah, wrote scripts for everyone...

Go(o)ggle Box Dept. (2009/06/08 10:33)
Sorry I haven't been saying much lately. Between working on two dueling projects for work (they're overlapping each other), getting ready for AnimeNext this coming weekend and trying to set a few other things in order, it hasn't been a...

Sagacity Dept. (2009/06/05 12:25)
For those with NetFlix: Carl Sagan's Cosmos is now available for instant viewing....

Yoko Tsuno #1: On the Edge of Life (2009/06/03 12:25)
A while back I wrote a review of an animated feature from Japan—Tarō the Dragon Boy—where I said something along these lines: “You could watch this just for the nostalgia value, but that would be a mistake.” The same goes...

Key Frames Dept. (2009/06/02 11:43)
With Titles Like ‘Planet 51,’ Computer-Animated Film Draws Smaller Players - NYTimes.comThe new CGI Astro-Boy gets a nod here, along with a picture. I can't wait for that one. ...

Pluto Vol. #3 (2009/06/01 11:30)
The more I read of Pluto, the less averse I am to the idea of remakes. Or, rather, of an artist of high caliber having his work revisited by another artist in the same stratosphere. Osamu Tezuka is about as...

Sway (Yureru) (2009/06/01 05:05)
For the first third or so of its running time, Sway leads us astray so well that by the time it closes around its real subject, we don’t mind. It’s only towards the end that we realize it was never...

Eye of the Inferno Dept. (2009/06/01 01:40)
Tokyo Inferno has a slightly remodeled cover design!The old design, for reference:...

Tin Omen Dept. (2009/05/31 03:08)
Ha Jin, the author of Waiting and War Trash, reflects on why he left the Chinese language behind for the sake of English, 20 years post-Tienanmen.His essay is short (i.e., go read it) and makes his case in plain language....

Tokyo Zombie (2009/05/30 12:33)
Tokyo Zombie. Say it out loud. The name alone tells you everything you need to know, doesn’t it? It’s set in Tokyo, and there are zombies, and whoosh there go the vast majority of people reading this off to update...

Late Bloomer (Osoi Hito) (2009/05/29 02:39)
Here I was, ready to dump the word disturbing onto the same trash heap of all-but-meaningless words where it’ll be in good company with terms like genius. Does it mean anything to call a movie disturbing anymore, when it feels...

Geisha Vs. Ninjas / Geisha Assassin (2009/05/28 11:44)
Geisha Vs. Ninjas (U.S. title: Geisha Assassin) is what I could call a WITTIWYG Movie. You’ve heard of What You See Is What You Get; now here’s What’s In The Title Is What You Get. There is a geisha, who...

The Cat in the Coffin (Mariko Koike) (2009/05/28 10:30)
In the few days before I sat down in earnest to read it, Mariko Koike’s The Cat in the Coffin sat cheek-by-jowl in my reading pile with Georges Simenon’s The Widow. A fitting pair-up. Simenon’s lean and surgically precise psychological...

An Elegy For The Queen of Cheironia (2009/05/27 03:13)
As with so many other deaths so early on, it still doesn't seem real yet. Doubly unreal since I never met her in person and now I never will. Death is unfair to everyone on both sides of the divide....

Guin Is Gone Dept. (2009/05/27 11:55)
Guin Saga Author Kaoru Kurimoto Passes Away at 56 - Anime News NetworkKaoru Kurimoto, the mystery, fantasy, and historical novelist best known for her Guin Saga epic series, has passed away on Tuesday at 7:18 p.m. She was 56....

Kurosawic Dept. (2009/05/27 11:41)
Courtesy of my buddy adgy on LJ, here is a massive online archive of all things Kurosawa. Note that you do need some comprehension of Japanese to make sense of it all, and it uses this horrible Flash-driven front-end (die!...

PROMOTIONS Dept. (2009/05/26 09:11)
What, more good news!? Yes. As of right now, thanks to the good graces of the folks at Lulu.com, I now have all of my books currently in print available on Amazon.com. Summerworld, The Four-Day Weekend and the older...

Con Surprise Dept. (2009/05/26 08:18)
I hadn't planned on this at all, but it looks like I'll be going to Anime Next in June. What's more, I'm going there as a vendor.You got that right: I'll be in the artist's alley, selling everything you see...

Booked Up Dept. (2009/05/25 04:28)
I don't talk much about SF, for a couple of reasons.I feel out of the loop. I haven't kept up with what's been happening in SF as a whole for a long time now, mostly for the same reasons I...

Uncharted Territory Dept. (2009/05/24 10:40)
Sorting through the welter of ideas in my head is a little like playing billiards with balls made out of Silly Putty. Sometimes you sink 'em, sometimes they bounce off each other forever, and sometimes they get stuck.Consider the hero...

Darker Than Black Vol. 4 (2009/05/24 10:19)
There’s few things I like more than a smart show. By that I don’t mean a show with no jokes and no humor; even Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex had the Tachikomas for comic relief (and the Major’s...

Life Times Dept. (2009/05/24 08:33)
I spent part of the weekend getting caught up on both writing and reading. Tokyo Inferno for the former, and Berserk for the latter. The more of it that comes out, the more I see what they mean about this...

On Parole (Akira Yoshimura) (2009/05/21 10:26)
Kikutani does not look forward to leaving prison. For sixteen years he has been half-asleep in the womb of the state, grateful for his lack of freedom, since it means that many less decisions he has to make. He is...

Starry Eyed Dept. (2009/05/20 11:06)
The short version: Trek was pretty good!The long version:A good deal of attention was paid to emotional things and not simply plot gears, which made quite a bit of difference.The overuse of shaky-cam and flarey-lens was annoying.The casting was good...

Dead Man's Gambit Dept. (2009/05/20 03:14)
One of the blogs I read regularly is Respectful Insolence, written by a (thus-far-pseudonymous) oncologist. He is proud of the work he does, and he has no tolerance for those who attack his work out of stupidity, spite or miseducation....

Terminated Dept. (2009/05/20 10:26)
Looks like Ebert didn't think much of T4. Terminator Salvation :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews... most of the running time is occupied by action sequences, chase sequences, motorcycle sequences, plow-truck sequences, helicopter sequences, fighter-plane sequences, towering android sequences and fistfights. It...

Special Ed Dept. (2009/05/19 10:24)
Star Trek: what it teaches film makers about special effects - Den of Geek... there were lots of special effects in the film, but each had a purpose in the greater scheme of things, and at no point did...

Red Carpet Dept. (2009/05/18 04:35)
Hush now, baby, don't you cry - Barbara Scharres from CannesYesterday's most blazingly good (and funny) film was Bong Joon-ho's "Mother", another dark comedy from Korea. Although he had a cult hit in the U.S. with his 2006 film...

Criterionikkatsu Dept. (2009/05/17 01:10)
Eclipse Series 17:Nikkatsu Noir - The Criterion CollectionFrom the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, wild, idiosyncratic crime movies were the brutal and boisterous business of Nikkatsu, the oldest film studio in Japan. In an effort to attract youthful audiences...

In the Realm of the Senses (2009/05/17 12:51)
Sex films are the bastard children of cinema because of their audience. Porn constitutes one of the biggest segments of the American video market, but the vast majority of porn is so bad it’s no wonder it rarely can be...

Kage-blu-sha Dept. (2009/05/16 09:01)
Blu-ray.com - Criterion Announces Kagemusha and Playtime for AugustThe Criterion Collection has officially announced two titles for release on Blu-ray on August 18: Akira Kurosawa's 'Kagemusha' and Jacques Tati's 'Playtime'. Both films will be presented in 1080p 1.85:1 video...

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GiG (2009/05/15 10:06)
The first season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was some of the very best television I had seen, animated or not; the second season is not only an admirable successor to the original but may even...

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2009/05/15 10:01)
The Ghost in the Shell mythology, originally from Masamune Shirow’s manga, has been spun off into two feature-length films, a set of video games, and now a 26-episode TV series that may outshine them all put together. In fact,...

Murakamization Dept. (2009/05/15 10:50)
I don't know how I missed this one: a movie version of Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood. Rinko Kikuchi Starring in Film Adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood | /FilmKenichi Matsuyama, best known as L in the live action Death Note...

Lucky Star DVD 4 (2009/05/14 10:53)
Explaining the appeal of Lucky Star to the uninitiated is enough to drive lesser men to drink. Suckers like me, writing reviews of this sort of thing, have to assume people will natively understand terms like moe and otaku (odds...

A Peek Ahead Dept. (2009/05/14 03:11)
I've got a few review-related projects worth mentioning.First, on the Edogawa Rampo front, is a review of both the book and movie of Moju: The Blind Beast, one of Rampo's most widely-adapted and -referenced works. The movie was released on...

Detroit Metal City Vol. #1 (2009/05/13 09:51)
At the tender age of ten, Johannes Krauser II picked up a boning knife and slashed the throats of his hapless parents, leaving their lifeless corpses bathing in pools of gore. Prison’s puny walls couldn’t hold a specimen of pure...

Cameramensch Dept. (2009/05/13 03:40)
I'm normally not a fan of Jim Emerson, but this one nails it. Why the Enterprise matters (and the rest is anti-matter) - scannersWhen showing opticals, miniatures or CGI -- especially when they are supposed to exist within the gravitational...

Burp (2009/05/12 04:29)
Sorry, OpenID (LJ/AIM/etc.) sign-on wasn't working for a bit there.It should be okay now....

Steal This eBook Dept. (2009/05/12 12:24)
With E-Readers Comes Wider Piracy of Books - NYTimes.comAlso among the aggrieved: Harlan Ellison, whose battles with USENET pirates are legion. A sort-of dissenting voice is also heard from: Cory Doctorow, who gives away free digital copies of his...

High Rise Dept. (2009/05/11 05:00)
Must-Have Manga and More! | Anime, Manga and More @ Right StufGet ready for major savings on must-have manga, graphic novels and other books from Vertical – from classics by Osamu Tezuka (Black Jack, MW, Dororo) to best-selling Japanese...

Nightmare Inspector Vol. #7 (2009/05/11 02:24)
If there’s a difference between a cliché and a trope, it’s that a trope can be the start of something great, but a cliché is where things end up, often being not-so-great. Nightmare Inspector has its own internal set of...

Oh My Amazon! Dept. (2009/05/11 12:16)
Tak (Versus) Sakaguchi's Samurai School is headed our way! Hilarious by all accounts -- and hey, he could be in a four-hour documentary about peat moss and I'd watch it. You know, punching it and stuff. (He was also in...

Hackwork Dept. (2009/05/09 11:41)
Time for a bit of an update on the projects-in-progress front.After a little too much time in the "is that wordcount or water torture?" department, Tokyo Inferno is finally back on something laughingly resembling a schedule. I hope to have...

Kindling 2 Dept. (2009/05/08 01:03)
A friend of mine asked me the other day: "So when are you getting a Kindle?" I said, "Around the time winged pigs circumnavigate the frozen-over reaches of hell." My friend was, to say the least, taken aback. He knows...

I Opening Dept. (2009/05/07 06:17)
YouTube - Koyaanisqatsi No, not a bootleg. This is an MGM-sanctioned and ad-supported version of Koyaanisqatsi on YouTube. Obviously the picture quality isn't what it could be -- the Blu-ray ought to be a stunner -- but if my...

Trekked Out Dept. (2009/05/07 10:45)
The first graf of Ebert's review of the new Star Trek movie makes me worry that my fears about the franchise being turned into a loud, annoying action movie are all too founded: Star Trek :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews“Star Trek”...

Batten Vol. #2 (×天~ばってん) (Tōya Ataka) (2009/05/06 01:19)
Well, that was short-lived. Such was my reaction at reading the second, and apparently final, volume of Batten. There’s little more depressing than reading something you have a furtive sidelong liking for despite all its flaws, and then seeing it...

The Why [sic] You Do The Things You Do Dept. (2009/05/04 01:00)
Last night a friend of mine and I got into a bit of co-musing about why we do the things we do (cue the Motown song). He wondered why he was drawn to stories, as he put it, "about violence,...

We've Got Your Amazon Right Here Dept. (2009/05/03 01:40)
Big Man Japan comes to American shores at last! By all accounts it's hilarious and highly recommended.A new DVD edition of a truly odd little movie, The 10th Victim, adapted from Robert Sheckley's almost-similarly-titled novel and curiously true to its...

Spaced Out Dept. (2009/05/01 04:29)
In re Sun Ra: Art Review - 'Pathways to Unknown Worlds' - Beamed From Tomorrow to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia - NYTimes.comI've been planning to talk about some of the Sun Ra sides as soon as I'm...

Brilliant Dept. (2009/05/01 03:19)
Op-Ed Columnist - Genius - The Modern View - NYTimes.comI'd long been suspicious myself of the "flash of lightning" / "touched by the hand of God" approach to genius. Frankly, it sounded like creationism: you're a genius because, well, you're...

Glitchy Dept. (2009/05/01 01:30)
Forgive the state of the site over the last day or so. I was in the process of trying to optimize some horribly CPU-expensive processes (some entries were taking 30 seconds or more to rebuild, which is just insane), and...

Stand Up And Be Counted Dept. (2009/04/30 07:45)
Amazon.com: Vote For the Next Criterion Collection Blu-ray ReleaseTogether with the Criterion Collection, we're offering customers the unique opportunity to select an upcoming Blu-ray release from the Criterion Collection. From now until May 25th, select from Au Revoir Les...

Think Tanked Dept. (2009/04/30 09:23)
Op-Contributor - End the University as We Know It - Op-Ed - NYTimes.comThere's a lot in this piece which is pure wishful thinking (end the tenure system, what?!) but I liked the bit about doing things with the teacher's...

Dogs: Prelude Graphic Novel 0: Stray Dogs Howling in the Dark (2009/04/29 10:04)
Dogs: Prelude is exactly that—a teaser for the main attraction to come, which explains why it’s numbered “0” and is entertaining without actually adding up to much. I suspect that’s not entirely the book’s fault, though: if you walk in...

20th Century Boys Vol. #2 (2009/04/28 09:17)
Every once in a while I have what I think of as an out-of-the-body experience at a movie … the events in the movie seem real, and I seem to be a part of them. [Such films] engage me so...

What Next Dept. (2009/04/28 01:06)
And so now the list of NaNo '09 candidates is at four.4DW II: RPG Boogaloo (not the actual title)Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope (yes, the actual title; the name itself is indeed homage to Agoraphobic Nosebleed, who I cannot deny...

Guin Saga Vol. 3 [Manga] (Hajime Sawada) (2009/04/26 10:36)
What we have here is a transitional volume of the Guin Saga manga, designed to get us out of one plot arc and into another. It spirits our heroes away from Stafolos Keep, out from the clutches of Count Vanon...

Suzume: 13 Japanese Birds, Pt. 1 (Merzbow) (2009/04/26 02:30)
“Merzbow’s back (you knew he would be) … ” So read the first few words of the blurb for another Merzbow disc, Merzbuta, but the same sentiment could apply to just about any Merzdisc. Just when you think the guy’s...

Crosspost To LiveJournal Updated (2009/04/26 01:09)
My Crosspost to LJ for Movable Type index template is now at revision 0.4. I added some features, cleaned up a few things, and am in general trying to make it as functional and convenient as possible.Future versions will, I...

Cryptic Dept. (2009/04/24 10:55)
Here's an experiment for you: I'm going to solicit feedback about two potential works-in-progress without talking about them in detail. Or, rather, without spoiling anything. (It's still early. Forgive me.) The first is a sequel -- not a planned sequel,...

Mutable Type Dept. (2009/04/23 12:50)
Work (both the paying and the other kind) have left me with less time than I'd like to just blog about casual subjects, but here's some musings about Movable Type:My kingdom for a decent rich-text editor. Unfortunately, the only way...

Sleepy Eyes Wide Shut Dept. (2009/04/22 01:08)
Raizo Ichikawa as Nemuri Kyoshiro, the sleepy-eyed killer from a long-running series of novels in Japan, finally hits American video thanks to the good folks at AnimEigo.I'll see about working my way through this one when it comes out.Lions Gate...

Claymore Vol. 4 (2009/04/21 11:47)
Most stories about monsters follow a basic formula: you’re either predator or prey, so hurry up and pick a side. Or, you’re someone who stands between the light and the darkness, so it’s only a matter of time before...

Chip's Challenge Dept. (2009/04/21 02:41)
Nice piece in the Philly Inquirer about Samuel R. Delaney:To sci-fi and beyond | Philadelphia Inquirer | 04/05/2009Dhalgren marks a transition between Delany's earlier and later works, which deal more directly and aggressively with social power. Myths, Delany believes, are...

Sundown Dept. (2009/04/21 12:34)
J.G. Ballard, ‘Empire of the Sun’ Author, Dies at 78 - Obituary (Obit) - NYTimes.comBallard was one of my favorite examples of a "difficult" writer -- difficult in the sense that he dug up all the things about life...

Upstream Dept. (2009/04/19 11:59)
Bandai's Sword of the Stranger gets a domestic BD release. I think they have something like four SKUs of this coming out. Ditto Mamoru Oshii's Sky Crawlers, which if we go by his pedigree, is going to either be great...

Unreality Dept. (2009/04/19 06:50)
I normally don't pay attention to reality TV (isn't that an oxymoron, anyway?), but this is worth talking about.You've probably seen the clip of Susan Boyle on "Britain's Got Talent" by now (linked in the article below), but Jim Emerson...

Fundoshification Dept. (2009/04/16 03:27)
Loincloths hot among Japan woman | Video | Reuters.comThe latest in "women's liberation" is a product making a comeback in Japan that makers claim allows women to ditch tight-fit underwear -- loincloths....

I Just Drifted Into This Dept. (2009/04/15 04:38)
Books of The Times - Manifesto of a Comic-Book Rebel - Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s ‘Drifting Life’ - Review - NYTimes.comTatsumi is of course the man behind The Push Man, Abandon the Old in Tokyo and other works....

I Talk In Pictures Not In Words Dept. (2009/04/14 03:36)
Art Review - A Ukiyo-E Master in the Art of Subtle Protest - NYTimes.comWell worth a read for the historical context as well as the art....

Atomu Powered Dept. (2009/04/14 02:07)
A new trailer is up for the CGI Astro Boy movie. Look fast for the cameo of Osamu Tezuka (sort of)!...

Stark Horse Dept. (2009/04/13 08:17)
THE BEAT » Blog Archive » Some trimming at Dark HorseRob Simpson was recently laid off at Dark Horse. Simpson, an industry vet who formerly worked at DC, was the Senior Editor in charge of Dark Horse’s prose books...

Eisner's Folly Dept. (2009/04/13 01:20)
AICN Anime made mention of the Eisner Awards for 2008, with some manga-themed material: Best U.S. Edition of International Material—JapanCat Eyed Boy, by Kazuo Umezu (Viz) Dororo, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical) Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz) The...

Never Sleeps Dept. (2009/04/12 09:59)
I spent Saturday with my folks in Jersey, celebrating the birthday of a family friend, and then from there swung quickly through Manhattan to test out a theory I had about whether or not Google Street View was any good...

Inner Ear Dept. (2009/04/10 11:30)
Thought I'd quiz people about what music to look at next... Another Lustmørd side project,Terror Against Terror, which I hinted at in my Isolrubin BK review. Geinoh Yamashirogumi's Ecophony Rinne, the first installment in the trilogy that included the soundtrack...

Crash Injury Trauma (Isolrubin BK) (2009/04/10 06:15)
Most anything with the “dark ambient” or “illbient” labels can be traced back to Brian Williams, aka Lustmørd, even if he’s not all that thrilled with such a descriptor. He’s also managed to balance a career of providing scores and...

Sonatine Dept. (2009/04/09 09:25)
Ebert gives Kiyoshi Kurosawa's new movie Tokyo Sonata 3 1/2 stars: Tokoyo Sonata :: rogerebert.com :: ReviewsWhat we seem to have are the outlines of a traditional family drama, in which tensions are bottled up, revelations will occur and a...

Blotchy & Ebert Dept. (2009/04/09 11:52)
Thoughts on Bill O'Reilly and Squeaky the Chicago Mouse :: rogerebert.com :: News & commentDear Bill: Thanks for including the Chicago Sun-Times on your exclusive list of newspapers on your "Hall of Shame." To be in an O'Reilly Hall...

Eyezapoppin' Dept. (Guin Saga Anime, Anyone?) (2009/04/09 12:56)
The Guin Saga anime has appeared. And from what I can tell, it is good. I don't think an American licensing deal has been set up yet, but I'd bet the phone lines between the U.S. and Japan are burning...

Moth To The Lightbulb Dept. (2009/04/08 12:44)
Roger Ebert's Journal: ArchivesOne of my editors at the Sun-Times once asked me, "Roger, is it true that they used to let reporters smoke at their desks?" This wasn't asked yesterday; it must have been ten years ago. I...

Black Jack Vol. #4 (2009/04/07 03:06)
There is no one best thing about Vertical, Inc.’s ongoing reissues of Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack. It’s a panopoly of good and best things. Not only are we getting a pivotal manga title in English, it’s one from a man...

A Pox On Both Houses (Of Parliament) Dept. (2009/04/07 02:54)
On why Japan is a wreck: Op-Ed Contributor - Japan’s Crisis of the Mind - NYTimes.comPretty biting stuff, and I suspect it'll ring plenty of bells with those who have been disappointed with Japan's idea of progress being apparently synonymous...

Treasury Dept. (2009/04/07 02:42)
Art Review - 'Art of the Korean Renaissance' - Korean Treasures at a Crossroad in Metropolitan Museum Show - NYTimes.com...

Keep Back Six Shaku Dept. (2009/04/07 02:35)
The geisha are apparently on the way out, too. In Kyoto, a Call to Not Trample the Geisha - NYTimes.com...

Phew Dept. (2009/04/06 10:21)
A good weekend was had by all. Went down to my friend Sarah's house for her birthday, enjoyed games and good cooking, Chinese buffets and Japanese import PS2 games. It's taking more time than I thought to get caught up,...

Exhale Dept. (2009/04/02 05:49)
Deep breath out … The last few months have been horribly busy -- work, writing, some new projects started and old ones finished -- and one of the consequences of that has been a little less activity here. But some...

Samurai 7 Vol. 1 (2009/04/01 04:48)
Samurai 7 isn’t a bad manga, just as the anime of the same name isn’t a bad anime. But I had the same problem with both of them: Why remake Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai—arguably one of the greatest films ever...

Shigurui: Death Frenzy (2009/04/01 01:09)
The mark of a skilled executioner in feudal Japan was to be able to slice off the head of a victim and yet still leave it attached to the corpse by a single shred of flesh. Here is a story...

Bashing (2009/03/27 11:52)
The nail that sticks out gets hammered in.—Japanese proverb Some of the best movies are about nothing more than the look on someone’s face. Bashing works like that: in its many moments of deep emotional discomfort, it zooms in on...

Fibber's Closet Dept. (2009/03/27 08:53)
Next weekend I'll be visiting my good friend Sarah in Jersey, and making a key stop on the way back: the Princeton Record Exchange. There, I'll be unloading most of my existing collection of vinyl. Most of it is actually...

Awesome + Awesome = AWESOME Dept. (2009/03/25 12:39)
You know what was cool? Death Trance. That was cool. You know what else is cool? Geisha. Geisha are cool. You know what else is cool? Ninja. Ninja are way cool. What's cooler than either of those? Geisha Vs. Ninjas....

Chirp Chirp Dept. (2009/03/24 02:35)
I’ve added a Twitter feed box on the homepage, where I'll be announcing word count progress on various projects, status updates as it impacts site work, Just The Disc bargains, and so on....

Darker Than Black Vol. 3 (2009/03/24 01:28)
The good news about Darker Than Black continues unabated. This has shaped up to be one of the best shows coming out in 2009—not just a great anime, but a solid TV show even for people who would never label...

Ong-Bak? More Like, OMGWTFBBQ-Bak (2009/03/22 03:59)
Ong-Bak was fantastic. Ong-Bak 2 shows every sign of leaving its predecessor in the dust.I must see this film immediately....

Net Working Dept. (2009/03/21 04:04)
I’ve added links to all of my social-networking presences (Facebook, Twitter, LJ, Flickr) in the top right column. I have a hard time staying on top of even my email, frankly, but each has their own utility....

The Inevitable Digital Age Dept. (2009/03/21 01:16)
Most people reading this probably know by now I’m not a gigantic fan of e-book systems like the Kindle. I’m also not naïve enough to assume I can just ignore the consequences of how reading and publishing are going digital....

Informing Ourselves To Death Dept. (2009/03/19 01:15)
Nicholas Kristof just echoed my thoughts. I saw a version of this not-challenging-one's-prejudices problem in college as well. Many of the people who go to college, from what I saw, weren’t interested in the usual liberal-arts or higher-education line of...

Long In The Tooth Dept. (2009/03/18 02:37)
Tokyo Inferno is now just south of 40K words. It “feels” about a little less than halfway done, so it’ll probably come in at 100K proper—about the length I’ve been aiming for with most of my work. A couple of...

Darker Than Black Vol. 2 (2009/03/17 01:15)
It’s been said that TV’s matured to the point where long-form dramatic shows (The Sopranos, The Shield, The Wire) provide the kind of depth of character and scope of story that we’d normally get from a novel. In a novel...

On Demand Dept. (2009/03/14 05:47)
A discussion over at IMC about gaming, which spills over a bit into writing in general: We’ve all seen it. The great idea for a room that seemed to fizzle to nothing shortly after getting out of the gates. The...

Pluto Vol. #2 (2009/03/12 10:57)
Every child born of every mother and father asks the same questions. Why is the sky blue? What happens after we die? What am I, anyway? My guess is that when the human race as a whole has its first...

Booked Up Dept. (2009/03/11 01:29)
I sat down with Tanizaki’s Diary of a Mad Old Man the other day—one of the first books I’d read when I had started making my foray into things Japanese. It struck me both then and now as something which...

Upcaught Dept. (2009/03/09 03:31)
I've reached the point on Tokyo Inferno where my edits are now caught up with where I left off with the manuscript back when I was still writing it (for NaNoWriMo). I'd decided to stop and backtrack, and do some more...

Up The Mountain Backwards Dept. (2009/03/07 10:22)
After what I can only describe as some horribly tedious rock climbing I managed to get past the rewrite that had been bugging me in Tokyo Inferno. It wasn’t even all that big a section—maybe a thousand words, tops—but how...

Claymore Vol. 3 (2009/03/07 08:55)
The third volume of Claymore brought home something that I’d been thinking about through the previous two volumes of the series. When you have a show with a premise that’s simple and bold, it lends itself to becoming a multifaceted...

Almost Transparent Blue (Ryū Murakami) (2009/03/06 01:43)
There are two authors named Murakami. Don’t get them confused; this’ll be on the test. Haruki Murakami is the master of daily whimsy, the author of Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. He...

The Ugly Truth Dept. (2009/03/04 10:21)
A new “Thoughts on the Craft” post at POD People deals with the subject of censorship and self-censorship. The central question: Should you alter [a] story to make [a disturbing truth] more acceptable, and if you endeavor to soften the...

Vampire Hunter D Novel Volume 9: The Rose Princess (2009/03/04 12:24)
Shame on me. Somehow, I managed to read and enjoy The Rose Princess without managing to write a review of it. Blame it on the end-of-the-year rush, an influx of other things all competing for my attention, or a proliferation...

Page Slavery Dept. (2009/03/03 05:25)
There was a time, not all that long ago, when I asked myself: Do I want to write, or do I just want to tell people I’m a writer? I get the impression a good number of the folks I...

Going Berserk Dept. (2009/03/03 11:50)
My good friend Eric has posted his own appreciation of Berserk at AMN. I've looked at the anime before, but in the context of the original discs; he's used the newly-remastered box set. Also be sure to check out the Berserk...

Gu-WIN Saga Dept. (2009/03/02 02:05)
The trailer for the Guin Saga anime has hit YouTube. We must have this in English as soon as humanly possible....

Of Pop And Pies And Farmer Dept. (2009/02/27 03:14)
Some bits 'n pieces from around the way. Criterion has a new box set from their Eclipse line, the Hiroshi Shimizu set. All date from the pre-WWII era and sound like the kind of thing that would make a nice...

Hard At Work Again Dept. (2009/02/26 08:05)
I spent most of February doing research for Tokyo Inferno rather than actually writing it. Is that procrastination? Probably, although I didn't feel like scribbling the rest of a draft and then dumping a good part of it because I didn't...

The Unheard Music Dept. (2009/02/25 08:32)
John Cage, again. "I don't hear the music I write. I write in order to hear the music I haven't yet heard." [*] I am the same way, I think. I write to bring into existence the stories I have...

Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei Graphic Novel 1 (2009/02/25 01:20)
A depressed young man came to see Hazel Dreis, the bookbinder. He said, “I’ve decided to commit suicide.” She said, “I think it’s a good idea. Why don’t you do it?” —John Cage, Indeterminacy That Hazel, she sure didn’t stand...

Boris At Last – Feedbacker (Boris) (2009/02/25 11:03)
Boris win some kind of award for truth in advertising with their album titles: Amplifier Worship, Rock Dream, and now Feedbacker. This is rock ‘n roll from Japan’s deepest underground live halls, drenched in (as the name implies) feedback, rattle-and-hum,...

We've Been Wrong All This Time Dept. (2009/02/24 05:10)
Folks, I have some terrible news. It's come to my attention that Zydrate does not, in fact, come in a little glass vial. It comes in a large, sterile plastic one-time use flechette. I'm doing my best to make sure...

Claymore Vol. 2 (2009/02/24 02:04)
The difference between an only-okay show and a great one is, I think, whether or not you care about the people involved. From the outside, I shouldn’t have cared much about Claymore and its cold, closed-off heroine Claire—but when I...

Weekend-end Dept. (2009/02/23 12:52)
I spent most of the weekend sneezing my fool head off. Good thing I didn't try to get into a car, as had been my original plan. I regret not getting to WF, but I have to be forward-looking. I...

Kurohime Vol. #10 (2009/02/22 10:52)
A key concept in comic publishing in Japan is the notion of the “rice manga”, the equivalent of Hollywood’s concept of a “tentpole release”. When you pick up your weekly, telephone-book-sized copy of Shonen Jump at the newsstand, there’s typically...

Down With The Sickness, Down, I Say! Dept. (2009/02/20 08:07)
So much for WickedFaire this weekend. I spent most of today watching the room spin around, so the idea of getting into a car and driving any distance at all was straight out. At least now I have an excuse...

Total Bull Dept. (2009/02/19 03:30)
Every now and then you come up against something that makes you not only stop cold but have the worst time starting up again and saying anything that isn't just "WHAT? WHAT?" Yes, again I was doing Tokyo Inferno research,...

What You Say! Dept. (2009/02/19 03:23)
Over at Sadly, No! (in a thread about Larry Niven) there was this comment: "When a writer consistently expresses the same views in (in this case) his fiction over a period of years, I think people can be excused for...

WickedFaire, &c. (2009/02/17 11:16)
A reminder: I'm going to be at WickedFaire this coming weekend, with books for sale and at least one panel discussion appearance. Everything I have will be available signed at the cover price ($12), as opposed to the $20 I...

Tamayura Douji Vol. #1 (たまゆら童子) (Eriko Sano) (2009/02/16 05:26)
We never know his name. He is referred to as “that mysterious boy” (不思議な童子 / fushigi na douji) by one character, but the title of the comic (たまゆら童子 / Tamayura Douji, “The Phantom Boy”) hints broadly at the fact that...

Criteriosity Dept. (2009/02/16 01:05)
The best news first. Criterion has seen fit to grace us with a Blu-ray edition of Akira Kurosawa's Ran. (Depicted here is the conventional DVD edition; no ASIN has been assigned for the BD yet.) It's set to include all...

Jaw Dropper Dept. (2009/02/16 12:19)
Most of my reading time as of late has been taken up with research for Tokyo Inferno, and as such things go I tend to bounce from one link to another. I found myself reading about the fierce reactions to...

Crown Vol. #1 (2009/02/16 10:57)
Two names. The first is You Higuri, she of Cantarella and Seimaden and a slew of other titles familiar to shōjo fans. The second is Shinji Wada, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many people reading this went who?”. And...

The Story of Saiunkoku, DVD 1-3 (2009/02/15 12:45)
Saiunkoku was almost a lost series. Originally set to be released by Geneon, it was one of the many titles that disappeared into limbo when the American arm of that company had its plug pulled in the Big Anime Shake-Out...

Talkabout Dept. (2009/02/13 11:12)
My interview with translator Camellia Nieh (of Vertical's new edition of Black Jack, among many others) is now live. Go read it -- it's in four parts, so remember to click the links at the bottom to move ahead....

Fowoll-Up Dept. (2009/02/13 01:41)
Turns out the product IDs that I linked to for both Summerworld and The Four-Day Weekend were wrong. I've since fixed the issue. My apologies to anyone who was cross-directed. (I also didn't need to create entirely new versions of the...

Self-Made Dept. (2009/02/12 12:51)
In my FAQ for this site, I've made some mention of why I've chosen to self-publish my material rather than go to a professional publisher. I've probably picked the right time to do this sort of thing, since self-publishing (especially...

SummerWeekend! (2009/02/11 11:51)
It's done! The new 5.5 × 8.5 versions of my books Summerworld and The Four-Day Weekend are available for purchase NOW. Both are available for $11.99 -- down from $15! -- and are available signed by the author for $20. You can...

A Slow Death: 83 Days of Radiation Sickness (NHK-TV "Tokaimura Criticality Accident" Crew) (2009/02/11 12:54)
Most of us, I suspect, have a deep-seated distrust of anything “nuclear”. The infamy of the atom has many monuments to its name: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Bikini Atoll, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Mayak, Windscale. Nobody wants a reactor in their backyard—even...

Trimmed Down Dept. (2009/02/10 06:47)
I've made the needed corrections to Summerworld and The Four-Day Weekend for their new 5.5 × 8.5 trim size editions. The changes were minor but there were a lot of them, collectively: a misaligned spine image here, some typographical inconsistencies...

Expanded (Jim Hanley's) Universe Dept. (2009/02/09 04:05)
Or, How I Spent My Time At Comic-Con 2009, NYC. (The title's a double pun that most any NY-based comics/manga/pop-culture fan will spot immediately.) Thursday: I galumphed on over to the city in the evening and swung by Book-Off, which...

CC Dept. (2009/02/09 03:38)
I've posted a longish summary of Comic-Con, from the "business / industry" side of things, over at AMN....

Thud-down Dept. (2009/02/08 08:59)
Back home from Comic-Con NY '09. Wonderful time was had by all, me especially. I'll post some more details later as I'm (predictably) rather worn out right now....

Gaiden Dept. (2009/02/04 07:15)
Twitchfilm just posted an out-of-nowhere trailer that made me sit up and beg: the live-action adaptation of Kamui Gaiden (Legend of Kamui) (Sanpei Shirato). Even more surprising is the director: Yoichi Sai. The last thing I remember from him was...

新宿エクスタシーDept. (2009/02/03 04:17)
The Japan Society of New York is curating a new film series, Shinjuku Ecstasy, which specifically deals with productions of the Art Theatre Guild. Among them: Funeral Procession of Roses, Throw Away Your Books and Go Out Into The Streets,...

×××HOLiC, Vol. #3 (2009/02/03 02:00)
A friend of mine and I somehow got into a discussion of what constituted dream logic as opposed to nightmare logic. (For perspective, this is the same guy who routinely torments me with questions like “What is the difference between...

Long Con Dept. (2009/02/01 10:37)
Comic-Con is this coming weekend. For me, it's partly a vacation, partly a job (I'm covering the whole thing for AMN), partly a family event (since I stay with my folks for the duration of the whole thing), partly a...

Pluto Vol. #1 (2009/02/01 12:53)
With all those names on the front cover of the first volume of Pluto, I feared I was looking at a case of Too Many Cooks Syndrome. Sure, manga can be a collaborative art form, and typically is: any given...

Impress'um! (2009/01/31 12:57)
Time for some book news! New editions of both Summerworld and The Four-Day Weekend are on the way. They are in the 5.5 × 8.5 trim size, with publisher-quality paper, and with some minor textual and format corrections here and there. They...

Punchy Dept. (2009/01/28 10:11)
The POD People blog has the first in what promises to be a series of posts by Cheryl Anne Gardner on the craft of writing. What’s the craft all about? Judging from the two quotes listed, it’s about tearing away...

Goodnight, Sweet Disc Dept. (2009/01/27 03:42)
[Note: I've posted eulogies for the LD before, but I can't find them; it seemed fitting to just rewrite from scratch.] One of Panasonic's LD players,as it was marketed in Japan in 1993. Home Theater Mag reports that Pioneer has...

20th Century Boys, Vol. #1 (2009/01/26 12:22)
The Child is father of the Man.—William WordsworthWe are, all of us and inevitably, the heroes of our life stories. The camera is in our own head; the plot was always written specifically to accommodate us. Time and again come...

Monster Vol. #18 (Naoki Urasawa) (2009/01/24 06:14)
Closing the cover on the last volume of Monster was like burying a friend. Like Vagabond, Berserk, Vertical / Viz’s Tezuka reprints and Blade of the Immortal, Monster is one of the few manga I know I will own long...

Shocking Crimes of Postwar Japan (Mark Schreiber) (2009/01/23 12:02)
Get past the lurid title, and Shocking Crimes of Postwar Japan offers a fair amount beyond the cheap frisson promised there. Part true-crime anthology and part social history, it uses the crimes in question as jumping-off points for insights into...

White Dog (2009/01/22 08:09)
When I was maybe ten years old I read an article named “What Man Has Done To Dogs”, about the genetic damage inflicted on man’s best friend by centuries of inbreeding. It was probably my first exposure to the concept...

Inexplicable Dept. (2009/01/21 02:15)
The Times has details about how an Aspen movie theater seems to have ended up with the distribution rights to the entire Ingmar Bergman film catalog -- although I imagine Svensk Filmindustri and Criterion and the BFI will have something...

Getting Into Trouble Dept. (2009/01/20 11:54)
I've mentioned before how my Japanese is "just good enough to get me into trouble" -- meaning that about half the time I can read right off the page without even looking at a dictionary, and the other half the...

Two Days Dept. (2009/01/20 11:52)
So many other people have commented on the fact that the inauguration and MLK's birthday coincide that I'm not sure what I can add, except maybe something in the realm of personal experience. I was in, I think, third grade...

Sukiyaki Western Django (2009/01/19 02:40)
Kinda figured that would happen. That’s what I kept muttering to myself throughout Sukiyaki Western Django, Takashi Miike’s too-hip-for-the-room remix of West and East. It’s the kind of movie where someone fires a crossbow bolt at someone and they blast...

Insiders And Outsiders Dept. (2009/01/18 01:10)
"Japan’s Outcasts Still Wait for Acceptance": The buraku, the lower-caste citizens of Japan who still find themselves bound to the past by their ancestry, look towards Obama's inauguration as an example of what they might be able to achieve one...

Ten To Blu Dept. (2009/01/18 12:43)
This was originally meant to be a wish list, but it's also turned at least partly into a "guess what?" list. I'd started to write down a wish list for BD titles that have little or no chance of ever...

Jyu-oh-sei: Planet of the Beast King (2009/01/17 10:12)
One of my greatest pleasures is to walk into something cold, knowing nothing about it, and come out the other side pleasantly surprised. I knew zip about Jyu-oh-sei when I cracked the shrinkwrap and fired it up, but that only...

Black Lagoon Vol. #4 (2009/01/15 05:43)
An installment of Black Lagoon where scarcely anything blows up would seem to be, on first glance, not much of an installment of Black Lagoon at all. Like glycerin without nitro (har, har). But one of the pleasures of this...

Tokyo Gore Police (2009/01/14 12:32)
Back when I reviewed Machine Girl, I wrote: “[This film] not only goes over the top, it tears the top off, sets it on fire, and throws it back at you.” Now from the same gang of loons comes Tokyo...

North Korea Kidnapped My Daughter (Sakie Yokota) (2009/01/13 12:04)
No other country inspires the same morbid fascination as North Korea. Here is an utter basket case of a nation, a totalitarian state with absolutely zero personal, political and economic freedom. Its only hope for future growth lies in what...

Carnival in the Night (2009/01/12 02:37)
Here is a film that I know objectively is not very good but which I confess to having a voyeuristic fascination with anyway. Carnival of the Night is part documentary, part glorified home movie and part improvised come-as-you-are / do-it-yourself...

Eye-Poppin' Dept. (2009/01/12 02:23)
The Times takes a peek at the next big frontier for filmmaking: 3-D. Or, rather, the next thing they can think of to get us back into theaters instead of cooped up in front of screens that are easily as...

Tokyo Inferno Update With MAJOR SPOILERS! (2009/01/11 04:45)
I haven't posted for a bit about what's happening with the new novel, Tokyo Inferno. I ought to, since I now have more good news than I can shake a fistful of sticks at. The story's back on track --...

Guin Saga Vol. 2 [Manga] (Hajime Sawada) (2009/01/10 01:30)
Sometimes it’s hard to remain a skeptic when all the evidence is splayed out right in front of you. The fanboy in me screams to accept the Guin Saga manga as nothing short of The Real Deal—a name-taking and ass-kicking...

WatchOutMen Dept. (2009/01/08 10:12)
"Despicable" and "underhanded" are two of the words that came to mind when I heard about Fox's power play to steal Watchmen out from under Warner Brothers and market it as their own property. Now, one of the producers has...

Over The Shoulder Dept. (2009/01/08 09:34)
The "Best Of 2008" article, to which I and other editors at AMN contributed, is now online. We also talk a bit about what we're looking forward to in the new year....

Dream On Dept. (2009/01/06 11:49)
Friends of mine got to arguing the other day about what the hell happened to fantasy fiction, about how it had all turned into boring multi-volume epics and Tolkien-derived trash. I gave my opinion like so: Yes, a lot of...

Revolting Dept. (2009/01/04 09:07)
I just finished sitting through, or maybe better to say suffering from, a viewing of Guy Ritchie's Revolver. It's been said that every bad movie is an object lesson about what not to do. I could probably get three or...

1000 Years Dept. (2009/01/04 06:03)
The Times has a nice little piece in their travel section about the anniversary of the authorship of the Tale of Genji. Memo to self: check out one of the museums in question if I ever get over there....

Cash Crash Dept. (2009/01/04 12:59)
The Times has a spectacular opinion piece -- courtesy of Michael (Liar's Poker) Lewis, that explains how the whole financial implosion of the past year or so was in the works for far longer, and was in many cases aided...

Gegege no Kitaro (2009/01/04 12:11)
Gegege no Kitaro is a poor man’s Great Yokai War, which is my way of saying go see that movie first and only come back to this one if you absolutely have to. Kids will probably like it—young kids. Really...

Black Jack Vol. #3 (2009/01/02 10:54)
Nobody, certainly not the reader, gets off easy in the end with Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack. This is a fantasy medical drama used as the disguise for one troubling meditation after another about life and death and our place in...

2009azon Dept. (2009/01/02 10:36)
Time to kick off the new year right with a quick roundup of what's coming out in the next couple of months! Welcome to the NHK, parts 1 and 2 -- this is another anime series that might click with...

Disconnected Dept. (2009/01/01 11:04)
In the commentary track that Roger Ebert recorded for Casablanca (now on the Blu-ray reissue), he mentions at about the 13-minute mark that we currently have a generation of moviegoers whose sense of the history of cinema begins --and ends,...

Goodnight Donald Dept. (2009/01/01 09:21)
From the Times: Donald Westlake is dead. 100 books and then some? Did his own tech support? A man after my own heart....

Pulverized Purple (Kikuri [Keiji Haino / Masami Akita]) (2009/01/01 05:25)
If you’ve ever wanted to hear something akin to a György Ligeti choral piece being performed on the rim on an active volcano, look no further than this collaboration between two of the most … um, explosive artists of the...

Genrecide Dept. (2009/01/01 01:32)
Years ago in Omni, of all places, they ran a cartoon that showed a husband and wife at the dinner table. The husband was about to shovel a spoonful of something into his mouth, but was fixing the wife with...

Vampire Hunter D Novel Volume 11: Pale Fallen Angel, Parts 1 and 2 (2009/01/01 01:12)
“Epic” is such an overused word. Everything from Harry Potter to Lawrence of Arabia to (gag, retch) Twilight gets the “epic” label. Keep this up and before long, everything will be epic—which means that by that token nothing is epic,...

Happy Arbitrary Chronological Demarcation Day! (2009/01/01 11:50)
The title should tell it. Happy 2009, to all of you who have 2009 on your calendars. To everyone else: have a good day anyway....

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